Arsenal employed a pretty bold strategy in their win over Southampton on Tuesday evening.
A high defensive line was used as the Gunners went for the jugular in order to exact revenge against the Saints, who only three days earlier had knocked the holders out of the FA Cup.
It was a tactic which worked a treat as Mikel Arteta’s men won the ball back up higher up the pitch, suffocating Ralph Hasenhuttl’s defensive line.
Should Nicolas Pepe start versus Man United?
Nicolas Pepe’s equalising goal came in an exact manner Mikel Arteta would’ve wanted it to come as the Saints defenders gave possession away thanks to his side’s high pressure. The move ended with the Ivorian slotting home after a great through ball from Granit Xhaka.
However, despite the success of the tactics against the south coast outfit, you can’t help but feel they wouldn’t work against the likes of Manchester United, who Arteta’s men face this Saturday.
Pace on the counter-attack has been the Old Trafford outfit’s bread and butter this season especially away from home, where the Red Devils remain unbeaten. Affording Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men space by playing a high line will only result in one outcome and that’s a United win.
The north-west outfit have shown how lethal they can prove away from home when their opposition play a high line numerous times against rivals Manchester City. Last season’s 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium acts as a warning for Arteta, that employing a high line against Saturday’s opposition will only end in one outcome, more so now that they’ve added the likes of Bruno Fernandes to their attack.
A more cautious approach could well be the ploy against a team who are riding high in the league and have an abundance of confidence. It’s hard to see how affording United space could possibly work especially when you consider the amount of joy Southampton got in behind the likes of Thomas Partey and Xhaka on Tuesday.