1. United were in depressed mood against the Gunners at Old Trafford. Arteta put on an organised Arsenal side and United never looked like getting hold of this match, despite the Gunners never – or almost – threatening De Gea in the United goal. United needed some inspiration, which usually comes from the likes of Bruno Fernandes. Bruno had an off day against the Gunners and he was substituted late on. It is worrying how much United depend on a firing Bruno these days. Most often than not, he is involved in all good moves by the team and United are simply not the same without his creativity. Even more worrying was a thing that I noticed mid-way through the second half. With Arsenal tapping the ball around in midfield and United players chasing, at one point he quit moving around and his head dropped. A dejected Bruno Fernandes is a first time for me and that is also concerning. Ole needs to work on his talisman because the team badly needs him in top form
2. Why has the midfield diamond failed to work against Arsenal in the first half? The answer is that it’s not the midfield diamond that failed United but the players in that diamond shape. Apart from missing most of his passes, Bruno was repeatedly retreating in deep positions to get on the ball and left Greenwood and Rashford too outnumbered in attack. McTominay was not the right person to look after Saka on Arsenal’s left and more often than not was drifted out of the game. I think Ole had to switch McTominay and Fred, although the latter still absolved himself with another tenacious display. The fourth member of that diamond is probably the most talented and he was not bad in his overall play. His foul on Bellerin in the box though handed three points to Arsenal. I felt that Arsenal would never have scored if it was not for that penalty. So, the diamond works particularly against a system with wing backs. But the players used have to be up for it. Ours simply were not today.
3. I felt so sorry for Mason Greenwood today. He had one opportunity in the first half and unfailingly, he managed to push Leno to the most difficult save of the whole match, despite not being in a superb position. He is so tidy these days when he’s on the ball and when Ole scrapped the diamond system after half time, he had to track back on his flank and was often too away from the danger zone. That’s not an ideal situation for United when our best finisher spends more time in his half rather than in the opponents’. The diamond formation suits Greenwood better unless Ole decides to start using him as the main striker. And maybe the time has come for that to happen, Cavani or not.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.