Premier League 2022/23: Manchester United v Arsenal - tactical analysis (2023)

Although it is something of an ode to an earlier era,manchester unitedcontraArsenalit remains one of the most acrimonious matches in English football.

At one point, the game was the pinnacle of Premier League action. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger try to trick each other, tunnel fights with Roy Keane andPatricio Viiraand a host of goals from some of the best players in the world, the event was the pinnacle of entertainment and quality.

While this infamous feud may have lost its titanic appeal, bragging rights remain vital to both fans. England's two titans met again at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon hoping to outwit their opponents.

Erik ten Hags United had won their last three games and were hoping for a fourth successive win, while the Gunners sat at the top of the table and headed onto the carpeted field of the Theater of Dreams in hopes of winning their sixth game. run and maintain their 100 per cent record this season, the only Premier League team to have done so.

A run had to end and it was the visitors who failed as Man United secured all three points in a resounding 3-1 win.

This articletactical analysisThe big draw on Sunday. It will be a...AnalyzeAgainTacticused by both coaches, as well as noting in which areas the game was won and lost.

formations and lineups

At the beginning, the home team selected the same team for three consecutive games, and did so with great success. However, with the signing of Antony from Ajax on deadline day, many considered whether the Brazilian would go straight into the line-up. In fact it was.

Ten Hag made just one change to the squad that put Leicester City on the sword with a 1-0 win on Thursday night, sticking to the conventional 4-2-3-1 formation he loves so much. Antony came on for Anthony Elanga on the right while the rest of the line-up remained intact, with Casemiro and Cristiano Ronaldo forced to watch from the bench.

Like the away team, Mikel Arteta has made just one change from the first team since Arsenal's last game against Aston Villa on Wednesday night, once again lining up in a 4-2-3-1. Oleksandr Zinchenko returned to the team to replace Kieran Tierney.

Both the squads and the sidelines were packed with quality and the game had that kind of vibe and edge that would make any neutral salivate. It certainly didn't disappoint either, but how exactly did the result come about?

Ramsdale United Press and Distribution

Sunday's crash was a fabulous example of getting highBlockin relation to the oppositionaccumulateStructure versus how to beat a press for player quality.

Interestingly, since the two teams played in a 4-2-3-1 formation,manchester unitedmiArsenalThey shared similar structures when they built from behind, as well as whenpressalternative

However, the Red Devils were the team that pushed the most while the Gunners boasted61,29percent of the ball too42Total positional attacks. When Arsenal played away from Ramsdale they used a 4-2 structure or more generally a 4-1-1 structure.

(Video) Tactical Analysis : Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United | Arteta A Cut Above |

See for example here. The two running backs were separated at Ramsdale so the goaltender could play a little higher between them. Meanwhile, the defenders pushed a bit more, but still kept a decent distance from the centre-backs to receive the ball comfortably.

While Arsenal played defense, Albert Sambi Lokonga was lower from the double pivot while Granit Xhaka was higher. Ten Hag faced Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay in a duet. Christian Eriksen sat lower and protected the back row.

United's three forwards pressed zonally and situationally, with even Fernandes moving away from his man on occasion to put pressure on Arsenal's defenders alongside Marcus Rashford, as seen in the image above.

This annotated screenshot perfectly embellishes Manchester United's in-game print structure. Rashford put pressure on the two center backs and the goalkeeper, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of Fernandes or one of the wingers depending on the situation.

But it was the role of the wingers that shattered United's system. That wasn't necessarily due to ten Hag or the players, but rather the ingenious game plan of Arteta and his coaches. Let's see why.

Man United winger Jadon Sancho and top scorer Antony slotted between Arsenal's full-backs and midfielders, meaning they were tasked with covering two players at once.

What Arsenal did so well was lure United's wingers into the middle with wide passes. This would create space for defenders and Ramsdale would consistently use this deduction to throw the ball past Ben White and Zinchenko with great success.

In such situations, the defensive midfielder often comes running down the flank close to the ball to quickly shut down the opponent. United defenders did not budge. That's because the wingers were from Arsenal.fixationher down.

On the other hand, if Arsenal were to press in the same way, they could have much more success pressing as defenders could move forward by not being pinned down. He made all the difference.

In the example below, White brought up Tyrell Malacia and Arsenal managed to get the ball out for a throw-in, stopping everyone.ball coursethe host.

(Video) Arteta's Wide Play Unlocks Ten Hag's Tactics | Arsenal vs Manchester United 3-2 | Tactical Analysis

Erik ten Hag was able to make a number of tactical decisions that day, but his high-pressure setup certainly wasn't one of them and Arteta is to be commended for how the players positioned themselves to give them the best opportunities to play from deep. possible.

Classic game of defender vs wing

One of the more interesting strategic components of Sunday's fight was the old-school feel of the grand matchup created by the battle between the wingers and the midfielders.

We spoke earlier about how Arteta kept his wingers off United defenders to keep them boxed in. But when the hosts defended in a block deeper down the field, seeing his team act without possession when their defenders were close to Arsenal's wingers was exactly what ten Hag wanted.

It was risky and could have backfired for the Netherlands coach, but the 52-year-old has given Diogo Dalot and Malacia full confidence to win heads-up against Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka. Have you returned your faith? A bit.

When defending against wingers, a coach will often signal the nearer winger to drop back and make a five-point save. Ten Hag did not want to continue with this project. Wingers Sancho and Antony remained at Arsenal's centre-backs, while Dalot and Malacia pushed for Martinelli and Saka.

However, doing so would leave gaps between the quarterback and the next quarterback. To seal that, the next defensive midfielder, Eriksen or McTominay, would move to the back line and create a five-pass defense.

Here, for example, Eriksen loosened up the defense to prevent Martin Ødegaard from putting the ball into the space between Malacia and Lisandro Martínez.

The reason ten Hag was interested in executing his double pivot in this way was because Arsenal like to form open triangles with wingers, defenders and forward midfielders.

With possession, Arsenal's form changed to a 4-3-3, with Xhaka moving forward in left midfield and Ødegaard coming out on the right, while Gabriel Jesus took advantage of the space between the lines. This form can be seen on the side pass card:

When the Arsenal wingers deflected the ball, they had three options. They could run towards the defender, throw the ball to the forward midfielder making a low run or wait for the defender to overlap.

Ten Hag made sure to cover all three, with the wingers getting past Arsenal defenders, United defenders on the visitors' wings and double-pivot passes to Xhaka and Ødegaard.

The example above is another scenario where we have seen United defend like this in a deeper block to cushion Arsenal's wide triangles, but this time on the opposite flank.

(Video) The Key to Ten Hag's Win over Arteta: Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal Tactical Analysis 2022/23

While this certainly worked in United's favour, considering the duels between wingers and defenders individually, while the latter won the war, the former won their battles.

Diogo Dalot was involved12Defensive duels, just win2, o17Percent, to be precise, although it did12ball recovery too. On the other hand, Malacia competed7Defensive duels and only won3, slightly better than Dalot's record, but Saka still edged out the Dutch defender overall.

Dalot also played an interesting role when Manchester United were in possession, which matched ten Hag's eagerness for his defenders to stick close to Arsenal's wingers.

As the image above shows, Antony stayed open and hugged the touchline as United found themselves in a rare positional attack set up, keeping wide down the right flank. Dalot would remain hidden inside. The reason for this was that, firstly, Antony is lethal when he comes in with his left foot from the touchline, and secondly, Dalot Martinelli was able to cover.

that is practicalRest Defensebut more individualistic. Dalot would be very close to the speedy Brazilian winger if Arsenal were to win the ball and try to find United at half-time. Unfortunately it didn't work out because Martinelli was too fast for the Portuguese international.

In fact, that was how Arsenal opened the net at Old Trafford before Martinelli's goal was disallowed by VAR.

Dalot sat close to Martinelli despite United having the ball. The Gunners recovered the ball and the former Ituano star fired from behind the home defence.

The United right-back tried to stay with Martinelli during the substitution, but was unable to get close before full-back David de Gea went through at the far post. It would have been a great transition goal if Eriksen hadn't been fouled by Ødegaard in the preparatory game.

Distance between joined lines and transitions

One of the most fundamental principles of block defense is to maintain compaction between the lines and break through the passing lanes in between. Especially in the first half he lackedcompactnessit was obvious and it caused the Gunners serious problems.

As mentioned, Arsenal similarly pressured United. Odegaard used to sit in the bottom of Man United's midfield, but he too stepped up to put pressure on the home defense alongside Jesus. When that happened, the Gunners went from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2.

However, the defensive block was very disorganized and the gaps between the attacking line, midfield and defense were very uneven and Arsenal were generally overwhelmed in the middle.

For example, as shown in the image above, Lokonga was forced to guard two players at the same time, while Xhaka sat on top of McTominay as soon as Odegaard appeared, making it easier for the Red Devils to develop the ball. .

It was precisely this situation that led to the first goal of the match. Eriksen fell low and found himself behind Arsenal's two-man pressing front line. Lokonga hurried to close it as Xhaka did.tag manMcTominay. That left Fernandes free between the lines to ask for a pass.

(Video) How Arteta OUTPLAYED Ten Hag | Arsenal 3-2 Man Utd | Tactical Analysis

The Portuguese star took the ball from a superb pass from Eriksen to break through Arsenal's first two defenses and after a few quick attacks, the ball fell into the hands of Antony for his first goal.

For the rest of the game, ten Hag was more pragmatic than his opponent. United sat deep, soaking up the pressure from the Gunners and trying to score at half-time.

In the second half, however, the game plan failed and Arsenal scored to level the game now tilting in their favour. However, the local team never faltered.

Just before the tenth hour, Hag brought Ronaldo from the bench to Antony as Rashford pressed to the left, a move that worked wonders. United looked much more lethal in transition, able to take advantage of Arsenal's high line as the Gunners pushed higher and higher, reeking of blood and searching for a winner.

Both of the aforementioned United goals came from quick transition scenarios to take advantage of Arsenal's incredibly high line. Rashford's diagonal runs from left to center were extremely difficult for the Gunners to defend against and ultimately cost them the game.

While ten Hag has been praised for his persistence and use of substitutions, the opposite can be said for Arteta. Arsenal were keen to go on and win the game after the draw and that took its toll on their defensive solidity.

After United's 2-1 draw, the Spanish coach switched to a three-man defence, albeit with strong attackers in midfield and on the wings, leaving the defense exposed on several occasions.


In November 2014, Manchester United faced Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League. Newly appointed Louis van Gaal wanted to impose his possession-based style in the flank, but opted for a more pragmatic approach against Wenger's FA Cup champions.

United scored early in the second half after an Antonio Valencia goal was deflected off Wojciech Szczęsny's leg by Kieran Gibbs. With fifteen minutes remaining in regulation time and with only one goal in hand, Wenger pushed the men into the lead en masse in hopes of securing a draw.

Unfortunately, this proved naive on the part of the legendary manager and mismanagement of the game, as Man United managed to exploit the lack of central defenders to score the second goal and secure all three points. Arteta played in midfield for Arsenal in the same match. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

(Video) The Difference between Arteta's Arsenal & Ten Hag's Man Utd... Arsenal 3-2 Man Utd Tactical Analysis

Premier League 2022/23: Manchester United v Arsenal - tactical analysis (22)

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