Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker has warned the team that any potential victory for us at Old Trafford on Sunday rests purely on how well we nullify the threat of Marouane Fellaini, The Evening Standard reports.
After his winner against Crystal Palace last week, the aerial threat of Fellaini has arguably become Manchester United’s most lethal weapon, and Mertesacker realises that we must counter that threat.
In our FA Cup victory over Louis van Gaal’s side, Francis Coquelin was deployed in front of Fellaini and he did a remarkable job, winning 10/12 duels with the Belgian, according to Opta.
Coquelin had 12 duels with Fellaini tonight. He won 10 of them.
— David Wall (@1DavidWall) March 9, 2015
Coquelin will be vital once again on Sunday, but we must also be wary of Fellaini’s tendency to draw himself towards the full-back in order to gain an advantage – something which Bafetimbi Gomis profited from on Monday during our shock 1-0 loss against Swansea.
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“Francis did really well last time,” Mertesacker recalled (via The Evening Standard).
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“The most important are the duels in midfield, around Fellaini. That is a major part of their game.
“We need to try to control this. It’s not going to be easy. They obviously want to keep the ball as much as possible.”
Victory, or even a draw, would most likely secure third place considering we still have a game in hand on both Manchester clubs. With Manchester City also facing some tough games, another win at Old Trafford would mean that we could still clinch second place.