Despite failing to produce 90 full minutes of truly convincing football through four matches, Manchester United still find themselves in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. This time, though, they didn’t get the luck of the draw by getting an inferior lower division club; instead, they’ll be up against defending champions Arsenal.
The soccer betting line (view here at TopBet.eu) shows United are still slight favourites by virtue of being the home team at Old Trafford. However, they could easily find their way out of the cup if they fail to improve from the lacklustre performances they’ve shown in recent rounds.
It starts with better team selection from manager Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has made some very curious decisions this season, from playing Wayne Rooney in midfield to moving Angel di Maria up front.
His freezing out of Ander Herrera and proclamations of targeting a creative midfielder have been especially confusing. Herrera made his case on the pitch with a good showing against Preston, wherein he scored the equaliser. Herrera at least deserves a chance to play, with Rooney and di Maria also playing their preferred positions.
United also haven’t solved their major problem of keeping their opponents from bearing down on David de Gea’s goal. In United’s last three matches against West Ham, Burnley and Preston, United have surrendered 13 total shots per game.
With all due respect to those teams, none have close to the quality up front that Arsenal possess. Things could turn out disastrously for United if they afford as many chances to the likes of Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez.
Finally, with Falcao misfiring, Robin van Persie off the pace and the team as a whole struggling to create any sort of identity, perhaps United should just knuckle under and embrace the long ball. Van Gaal is staunchly against any implication that he plays such a style, but it’s admittedly one that has found success, particularly against Arsenal.
United have little style to sacrifice at this point, and using a significant advantage in Marouane Fellaini’s aerial ability seems like a decent strategy considering their ineffective alternatives.
It’s painfully clear United still have a long way to go, and they’ll need to find solutions quickly before they go crashing out of their only hope for silverware this season.