Football Expert & Columnist
Arsenal vs Man Utd: Danny Higginbotham's tactical preview
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Last Updated: 10/03/19 6:23am
Manchester United's split centre-forwards could cause Arsenal problems on Super Sunday, according to Danny Higginbotham.
United head to the Emirates Stadium hoping to follow up their extraordinary Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain with an 11th Premier League win in 13 games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United have already tasted victory at the Emirates under Solskjaer, a clinical counter-attacking performance giving them a 3-1 win in the FA Cup in January, and Higginbotham feels the tactical approach that worked in that game - when Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez pulled to the flanks to exploit the space behind Arsenal's full-backs - could be decisive again.
"Arsenal's main width comes from their full-backs, so the problems they are going to have comes in these areas [behind them]," Higginbotham said on Sky Sports News.
"At times you will say, 'it's OK, you've got your two defensive midfielders who can cover those areas', but the problem is if Lukaku's going to go there and Rashford is going to go there.
"The pace that Rashford and Lukaku have, the quickness of the delivery from United going forward, I don't think it's possible for Arsenal's two [defensive midfielders] to do that.
"So then what happens is that one centre-back has to go out there, and then we know full well that the space becomes unbelievable [in the centre of defence]."
Higginbotham expects Unai Emery to deploy three at the back in an attempt to counter United's split centre-forwards, but even then, he says, they may struggle to prevent gaps opening up in central areas.
"From Arsenal's perspective, they may look at it and think they have got a better chance of dealing with it with a back three," he says.
"The problem now, though, is that if you get one [centre-back] going out wide, the gaps are still through the middle - just in different areas.
"This is where it's going to be very difficult for Arsenal to defend against. I think the way United have gone about it so far, it's been so clear when you watch the games that they play with split centre-forwards.
"They've done that against the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea, and it's worked wonderfully well for them. I wouldn't be surprised to see them do it again at the weekend."
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