Former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins believes Michael Carrick must start for Manchester United against Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger’s side visit Old Trafford on November 19 with six points separating the two sides, and a win for Man United could see them go just five points behind leaders Liverpool.
Carrick, who will reportedly receive a contract extension, has made six starts this season – all of which resulted in a win for Jose Mourinho‘s men.
Wilkins, speaking on Sky Sports earlier today, insisted that Carrick needs to start against the Gunners.
“Manchester United cannot afford to let Arsenal win at the weekend. Arsenal will bounce clear, and you can’t be giving teams three-game swings at his stage of the season,” he said.
“For United to finish in the top four they’ve got to beat Arsenal on Saturday, and it’s going to be tough.
“I don’t think United have controlled many games.
“I think with Carrick in the side that’s the only option they have to get some semblance of control and a bit of serenity.
“He sees the game so well, he can hit long passes and if United are going to push up and attack Arsenal you’re going to need that guy, with all his knowledge, to stop counter-attacks.
“I think Michael will have to play for United to have a good chance.”
Wenger’s men, buoyed by an excellent record of ten wins in 12 games, will look to grab hold of proceedings from the start on Saturday. Indeed, this is exactly what Arsenal do: they dominate midfield, accurately zip the ball around and forge open gaps.
Needless to say, Man United’s antidote to this approach is Michael Carrick. The 35-year-old’s aptitude for controlling midfield battles – calmly orchestrating the game’s tempo, like some wise Marionette-wielding master – would stem the tide and draw out the psychological frailty embedded in Arsenal’s squad. Once they lose their sense of control in midfield, the visitors – much like last season – could fall apart, with Carrick serving as the source of their derailing.