4-4-2 against Arsenal

Discussion in 'Manchester United Forum' started by MadMike, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Mar 11, 2019
    #1

    MadMike Full Member

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    We started the game with a clear 4-4-2 formation with Dalot on the right and Pogba on the left. I was keen to see how it plays out when the line ups were released, but I must say it underwhelmed pretty quickly. We ended up changing not too long after we conceded.

    The 2 men in the middle got out numbered by Arsenal's 3 which lead to the gaps in the middle that were exploited for the goal. Pogba was also quite ineffective as LM, too far from the action and quite quickly closed down and doubled up on by Maitland-Niles and Xhaka.


    Is 4-4-2 dead as a system while everyone else plays 3 in the middle? If so, how do Atletico Madrid make it work... or Monaco when they made the CL final? Was it simply a case of wrong personnel for the job, or players being unfamiliar with a system we've hardly ever deployed before? Should we play that again in the future and if you so, how would you like to see us line up?
  2. Mar 11, 2019
    #2

    Man-United Full Member

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    It's my favourite system the 4-4-2 . Think it still can work but not with Pogba in the side and he's our best player so for the moment we are better in other formations.
  3. Mar 11, 2019
    #3

    Nick7 Full Member

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    Atletico basically play with 4 central midfielders. Their best midfield line up is Koke-Thomas-Rodri-Niguez.
  4. Mar 11, 2019
    #4

    Inigo Montoya Leave Wayne Rooney alone!!

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    Question, did we genuinely play a conventional 4-4-2 yesterday?
  5. Mar 11, 2019
    #5

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    We created a few big chances and did not conceed many big chances. Despite Arsenal managing to put pressure on us we looked more in control when defending than they did (also reflected by chance statistic).

    442 works well when you wanna sit deep and attack quick on the counter. Like Atletico. But it is not a good formation id you wanna be more proactive and put pressure on the oponent. When Arsenal got the first goal we obviously had to change our game plan and elegantly adjusted our formation.
  6. Mar 11, 2019
    #6

    MadMike Full Member

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    Answer, yes we did. For the first 25 mins anyway.
  7. Mar 11, 2019
    #7

    Andrew~ Squiggle

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    442 works fine. Yesteday we just didn't have anyone playing in the gap between their defense and midfield, so Xhaka and Ramsey were basically free to do whatever. And we didn't get the ball to Pogba enough. 442 is a great system if you have the right players.
  8. Mar 11, 2019
    #8

    Man-United Full Member

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    Just at the start of the game it looked like it but got changed after a while.
  9. Mar 11, 2019
    #9

    MadMike Full Member

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    We created one big chance, the early Lukaku one. We clearly changed the formation after that, Ole stepping off from the bench and gesticulating with 3 fingers towards his team.
  10. Mar 11, 2019
    #10

    stepic Full Member

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    im not sure Pogba played properly on the left even at the start did he? not as an out and out winger anyway. he was drifting inside quite a lot.

    i didn't like the line up. i assumed we would match Arsenal and play 3 at the back, with Young as RCB. we eventually switched to this and looked much better.
  11. Mar 11, 2019
    #11

    gr3yham3 Full Member

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    Yeah we switched to a back 3 to match them, with Shaw and Dalot staying wide and high up the pitch, allowing Pogba to move infield. Don't think it was a matter of tactics - more of the players lacking a bit of that match sharpness to finish off our chances.
  12. Mar 11, 2019
    #12

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    Think you are right.

    Regardless, we changed the system immediatley after their goal. At that point in time, they had an expected goal of 0,18. We had, with that one chance, an xg of 0,73. They got that goal after 10 minutes. I’m not sure that is enough to say that it does not work.

    The first ten minutes against a top 6 team away from home will always be tough. Certainly against a manager like Emery. Lets not forget, the system also helped us create one huge chance.
  13. Mar 11, 2019
    #13

    MadMike Full Member

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    But the point I'm making is some of our best chances and moves came after we switched to 3-5-2, not before.

    We can theorise how the game would have developed if we'd stayed with 4-4-2, but it didn't look too pretty. Yeah, we did create one good chance for Lukaku in that time, but we also looked really vulnerable with lots of space for Arsenal to exploit. After we changed our formation their best chance came from a Lindelöf individual feckup, not from tactical problems.
  14. Mar 11, 2019
    #14

    MadMike Full Member

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    I don't trust xG as far as I could throw it. Arsenal had lots of space in the midfield with Ozil getting in dangerous positions. Kolasinac was getting lots of joy running on the overlap and putting crosses in the box for Lacazette. I guess xG doesn't register them as chance because he didn't make contact with the ball? We seemed to get more control of the game after shifting Pogba more centrally. Something xG won't tell you.
  15. Mar 11, 2019
    #15

    red woppit Full Member

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    Think Ole tried the normal 4-4-2 as an experiment that didn't quite work out, with Dalot playing wide right I think the intention was to nullify Arsenal down their left, but they seem to get a lot of joy on that side. If Herrera had played then that may have stopped them to a certain extent. A 4-4-2 diamond would have worked ok, but we didn't have the players to try that, I've always thought that system would suit us better, with Matic (McTominay) as the CDM, Herrera on the right, Fred on the left, and Pogba as the point. That would give Pogba no defensive duties as such, and could break quickly out of defence when he got onto the ball, and to me would be a far tougher midfield to provide protection.
  16. Mar 11, 2019
    #16

    andersj Nick Powell Expert

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    It is true that Kolasnicas did that, but was that due to the system? I dont think so!

    Why would Kolasniac get more joy running on the overlap in a 442 than the 352 that we changed to? In the 442 Kola would still be man vs man against Dalot..

    And why where there no players there to be on the end of the cross? Just luck or maybe down to the fact that the Arsenal players as well have to adapt to how we play?

    Furthermore, Arsenal created just as many chances the 15 minutes after we changed system as they did the first 11 minutes.

    I think its a complicated analysis with a lot of variabels coming into play, and it is quite easy to knee-jerk.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  17. Mar 11, 2019
    #17

    Bwuk Full Member

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    We don't have the squad to play 442. It doesn't get the best out of our squad.
  18. Mar 11, 2019
    #18

    Sylar Full Member

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    We didnt do that badly with it, but the issue was that our two cbs were left isolated with a 1 on 1 with their two strikers (and our full backs didnt tuck in when we didnt have the ball given Arsenal had no width)
    Also with Matic not moving around, it meant they had three men vs two in the middle. But all that meant was they had time on the ball but they didnt create anything. Their goal was a speculative shot that should have been closed down and even after that, should have been saved.

    Meanwhile we created chances when we broke. It did seem to suit Shaw quite a bit. I reckon the formation would have worked even better had we had Herrera in the middle instead of Matic.
  19. Mar 11, 2019
    #19

    Sunny Jim Full Member

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    442 is the most romantic system out there.

    Im a big fan of 4-3-3 with a defensive mf
  20. Mar 11, 2019
    #20

    Physiocrat Full Member

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    One thing to note with the 442 was that Rashford was as far forward as Lukaku in a genuine 442 without the ball. There's no reason we couldn't play more of a 4411 with Rashford deep helping out the midfield without the ball and him join Lukaku as a second striker in possession. My point being that a 442 of sorts doesn't necessarily mean being outnumbered in midfield.
  21. Mar 11, 2019
    #21

    Ish Lights on for Luke

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    In hindsight if we started 4-4-2 it should have been with a midfield diamond, Pogba at the attacking tip and maybe had one of McT or Pereira in midfield to shore it up (and not started Dalot), with Rashford and Lukaku drifting wide on the counter.

    Dalot looked pointless/lost out there, IMO.
  22. Mar 11, 2019
    #22

    11101 Full Member

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    The days of all action, dominating midfielders is over, so the days of 442 is over.

    Look at our average positions v Arsenal from whoscored.com (we are in blue).

    [​IMG]


    They packed the middle with 3 players and used two very wide wing backs to spread our own midfield across the pitch. Very hard for a midfield two to do anything about that as there is always a spare man for the opposing team. Whichever way we move we leave a gap somewhere else.
  23. Mar 11, 2019
    #23

    Valencia Shin Crosses Full Member

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    Can people stop bringing this up? I know we all loved the classic United 4-4-2 from the Keane and Giggs days, but in modern football that formation is too easily exploited. We were chasing shadows the first 20 minutes of yesterday because we were constantly outmanned in the middle of the park. The only way it could be effective nowadays is in the Leicester mould of sitting back, then attacking with super direct passes until one hits like they did when they won the league.
  24. Mar 11, 2019
    #24

    DSG Full Member

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    This. When playing against a back 3, the two strikers can set up wide, pulling the centerbacks wide, leaving a lot of space in the middle. The tip of the diamond (Pogba) can start the counters in space where we are most dangerous.

    I think Ole was nervous about Kolasinic and felt this rather narrow formation would not provide enough cover vs. Kolasinic. Also, personnel-wise, Dalot is not a right side CM... which you kind of need to play the diamond. Herrera is perfect in that role.

    They made some in game adjustments, then later moving to a 4-3-3 after Martial came on.
  25. Mar 11, 2019
    #25

    Harry190 Full Member

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    Why are people complaining about the Pogba as a wide player on the left now? He's been there before, it worked pretty well for us as well. He likes drifting there as well. This is Manchester United. Sometimes you take risks yea.
  26. Mar 11, 2019
    #26

    MadMike Full Member

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    Left of a trio in a 4-3-3 is much different to left of quartet in a 4-4-2. When did Pogba play LM in a 4-4-2?
  27. Mar 11, 2019
    #27

    Maticmaker Full Member

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    I was puzzled by the original line up and it clearly didn't work in the first twenty five to thirty minutes, in which time we had lost the 1st goal and the initiative to Arsenal. (found myself agreeing with 'Sourness'... I will do penance later I promise!)
    I still think much of the display was down to the hangover from Wednesday, but if you were going to play a 442 then surely one of the middle two had to be a 'bite-yer-legs' type. Herrera was injured so for me it should have been McTominay. Admittedly Fred had a good game on Wednesday and in his normal midfield role he did ok against Arsenal, but it was not want we needed, as demonstrate by the first goal. True David De Gea did make a misjudgement, but lets be honest the shot should never have been made, Fred and Matic both strolling casually five or ten yards away.

    They say you learn more from mistakes, hope we do from yesterday!
  28. Mar 11, 2019
    #28

    Ekeke Full Member

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    The system works for other teams.

    I'm sure Pogba was supposed to be coming inside making it a 3 in CM with Dalot giving width on the right. Pretty much the reverse of our normal tactics where we have a left winger but the right winger is really playing CM.

    Arsenal were simply sharper and more alert in the first half. Tactics dont really make up for one set of players being better at winning the 50/50 balls. Arsenal set out with a gameplan and were able to get theirs going before we got ours going and we never really got comfortable. Having said that, it looked like it was just going to be the same old Arsenal Vs. United match we've seen for the past 15-20 years.

    Arsenal have the ball and look to get through but cant get a goal, while we hit them on the counter attack and finish our chances.

    Thats how it felt to me, until suddenly De Gea messed up the Xhaka shot and we went behind. That changed the match. And again when the phantom penalty was given against Fred. I still felt like we might score and turn it around but then the penalty changed things.

    All in all we've had plenty of luck since Ole took over, and yesterday we finally had some really bad luck.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  29. Mar 12, 2019
    #29

    mazhar13 Full Member

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    This. I didn't really see much of an issue with the system itself (it was no different to our setup against Crystal Palace). The only real issue I saw was that Matic was not following along with our tactics, which resulted in huge gaps in the midfield. One may say that Ole should have accommodated Matic in, but parking the bus against Arsenal at home is never a surefire guarantee to success.

    Pogba was still coming inside, and he was drifting out to the left in no atypical fashion; there was nothing different to Pogba. Our two main problems at that time were Matic and the fact that we were moving the ball around slowly. When we were moving the ball around at a quicker tempo, we opened them up.

    After we conceded, Ole did change to a 3-5-2, and that made Matic less of a liability in the midfield (but still a liability). In my view, if we had a fresher McTominay or Herrera, we'd have fared better. In the second half, though, we kept bypassing their midfield, but our attacking players' bad decisions killed off most of our attacks.

    In hindsight, starting Matic wasn't a good idea, but without Herrera, could we have risked McTominay playing in another intense match and getting injured?