Away at Arsenal, Louis van Gaal used a 3-5-2 formation to great effect. Exploiting Arsenal’s high line after Manchester United’s defence soaked up some intense pressure, United burst forward on the counter-attack which is precisely what the 3-5-2 formation is all about.
It worked and United came away with the three points, so Van Gaal may well be thinking of deploying the 3-5-2 formation again away from home in a tricky tie against Southampton.
The big problem with the 3-5-2 formation this time around would be that Di Maria is missing. His electric pace on the counter was crucial to this formation, so somebody would have to pick up the baton.
A Spanish midfield of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera in front of Michael Carrick would certainly create plenty of opportunities and with Ashley Young in good form as a left-back, he’d provide the right support.