The defense pretty much picks itself, at least at center half with Gabriel set to spend the next three weeks on the sidelines with the hamstring injury he sustained in the first quarter of the win over QPR. Mertesacker and Koscielny have not managed to re-establish the solid formidable partnership that blossomed last season and they will have another good test at Old Trafford.
Flanking them should be Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal. Bellerin and Gibbs have been used as the primary full backs in the last three games and it is fair to expect a tweak from Wenger. It is the opinion of some that Monreal had unfairly lost his place to Gibbs, although injuries have added to his latest absence but if passed fit, he should be the one to add more maturity across the back four. You can be sure he will not be looking to get lost in midfield while the counter is on against his side.
Cazorla has worked well playing from the deep midfield position and it has to be noted too that he has not shirked from defensive duties. However, in all of the games in which he has been deployed alongside Coquelin, it clearly did not work against Tottenham and Monaco, arguably the toughest of the teams played with this set up and it may not work against United either. Aaron Ramsey’s flickering hamstring makes picking him a dodgy decision but he remains the best man for the Arsenal central midfield job. This does not have to be the game in which he rediscovers his scoring touch, a basic midfielder’s game will do.
There is a bit of surprise in the attacking aspect of my starting XI and that would involve dropping both Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud and string with Mesut Ozil on the wing with Danny Welbeck as the center forward. Giroud has been immense since his return but Arsenal could do with some mobility in and around the box and Welbeck may be favoured on his Old Trafford return. He has been decent on the wings but he has always drifted inwards in every game and though the chances have not always been put away, they have always come.
He will have the company of Theo Walcott to his right in what could be a 4-4-2 formation as the match progresses, with both Danny and Theo exchanging positions to support each other at intervals. The prosperity of Walcott’s Arsenal career has been brought into question in recent times and he really needs a good performance to silence his doubters. Perhaps, a center forward’s performance?
To bring it all together, in the Number 10, should be Santi Cazorla, though I would admit there is the temptation to pick either one of Rosicky or Alexis due to their burst of speed. But Santi has been excellent so far and it should serve Arsenal well in this game to see him shine in a more attacking role where he can influence the final third more.
With the security of both Ramsey and Coquelin, Ozil and Cazorla can always expand to the wings while Walcott and Welbeck keep their focus on the goals.
And oh, Wojciech Szczesny would have to keep his own focus in goal too. He remains behind Ospina but this is one of those games in which a clean sheet gets you back into the main team sheet.
The line-up should look like this:
Dont agree with this as the best starting xi against Man Utd? Then share your thought and opinion on how Wenger should line-up his side.
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