By 1970’s Gooner
Does a football coach select his starting eleven according to who’s available and on form? Or according to the system that is the most appropriate for the particular game coming up?
It’s usually a combination of both of course and for the Arsenal Manchester United clash at the Emirates it is intriguing to see what formations the two managers will go with.
Let’s look at the visitors first.
Ferguson’s options appear to be much more compromised than Wenger’s.
The injuries to key players such as Neville, Saha, Scholes and possibly Carrick will go a long way in dictating not only who he selects to start but more crucially which system he will deploy.
This is because in that critical area of the pitch, the midfield, he is deprived one if not two of his best midfielders. Scholes of course has been out for some time now and the additional absence of Carrick recently forced Ferguson to rely on new young recruit Anderson.
Carrick is now considered to have overcome his injury. But he has been out for the last four weeks and I am not sure that Ferguson will risk him. There is a chance of the injury recurring but more importantly there will be concerns over his match fitness.
So Ferguson may have to decide whether to stick with Anderson or bring back Fletcher who can add a bit more steel in an area where a lot of Arsenal’s play is directed form. The excellent Hargreaves of course will be the other central midfielder.
If Ferguson sticks with Anderson then he might feel that his midfield may need bolstering further and therefore ask Roonie to drop back into that area in a 4 4 1 1 come 4 5 1 formation.
In fact he may still decide to choose this system even if Fletcher is selected as he has not being playing recently and might also be rusty.
At the end of day we all know that Roonie will be playing in that hole behind the main striker. But it is how attacking minded Ferguson wants him to be that will decide whether he is more offensively or destructively oriented.
Another reason why Ferguson might be more conservative is the vulnerability of the United full backs O’Shea and Wes Brown.
Evra, who might be fit to start, has been out of action too and may lack match fitness. Ferguson therefore might want to give his full backs more protection by detailing support from the midfielders. And a 4 4 1 1 system will allow him to do that.
There is of course a price to pay and that is the forward areas of the pitch might be starved of support.
4 4 1 1 for Arsenal too?
On the other hand Wenger has even more options. He can play the same way he did against Liverpool with a 4 4 1 1 formation with Hleb just behind Adebayor.
This is risky as it will leave only Flamini as the only defensive minded midfielder. Roonie will then find a lot of space as that will be his favourite patch of the field.
In order to counter this Wenger can go for the more conservative 4 3 3 by bringing Gilberto back into the midfield along with Flamini and Fabregas.
Adebayor could then be flanked by Hleb and Rosicky. Gilberto parking himself infront of the defence countering Roonie’s threat and Fabregas and Flamini pushing forward in support as and when the occasion demands.
The second option is to bring Bendtner or Walcott on to partner Adebayor in a 4 4 2 formation.
I watched Bendtner perform very well for Denmark in the Euro qualifiers and also in the Carling Cup. His direct physical style is very effective.
I doubt whether Wenger will try this as he is yet inexperienced for such a big game. The same goes for Walcott who is much more effective coming off the bench at the moment.
This 4 3 3 formation will be my preferred option as it provides defensive cover but at the same time it allows you the use of three attacking players plus any of the midfielders who may venture forward.
Arsenal more than Manchester United have “impact” players on the bench such as Walcott, Eboue, Bendtner or Eduardo to change the game if needed.
Ed: what do you think should be the formations for the two managers? Leave your comment and your vote on the poll we have set up