Arsenal visit Old Trafford today looking to get their season back on track after two consecutive 1-0 Premier League defeats to Man City and Leicester.
Mikel Arteta has been flip-flopping between a 3-4-3 and a 4-3-3 system so far this season, with two of Aubameyang, Willian and Pepe occupying the flanks and either Eddie Nketiah or Lacazette in the centre-forward position.
This means that United will be facing a different sort of challenge today, an attacking ‘front three’ side, and there will be no parking the bus from Arteta. The question is, will that suit United at this stage or not?
Historically, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United sides have performed better against teams that have taken the game to them, with pacy forwards such as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood thriving on the space left behind the defence.
However, this season started with some shaky defending by United that culminated in them being put to the sword by Spurs in that horrible 6-1 defeat.
Solskjaer has the same choice as Arteta in that he can play three or four at the back. If he chooses three, then there will be extra cover for full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw as they attempt to keep Aubameyang and (probably) Willian quiet. However, that could be seen as a defensive move by the manager in a home tie where United will be expected to be on the front foot.
If the boss opts for a back four, it could be the biggest test yet since the Spurs defeat of how well the problems have been resolved.
When United’s defence is playing badly, there tends to be way too much space in between Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof through the middle, Wan-Bissaka drifts in, allowing too much space for the winger (which in this case will probably be Aubameyang) and Luke Shaw tends to get caught too high up the pitch or also tucking in too much and allowing space on the flank.
There is also the issue of David de Gea’s tendency to make errors. The Spaniard has been impeccable in the last couple of games, but can he keep that momentum going? After two seasons of mediocrity, is everything finally back to normal or is this a purple patch of good form in amongst all the average?
In theory, he too, would be tested less if there is an extra centre-back in front of him.
Whether Solskjaer brings in Axel Tuanzebe alongside Maguire and Lindelof or whether he sticks with the back four today will be a good indication of how confident he is that the problems have been eradicated.
It is a huge decision for the manager and one that he must get right in order to keep United’s improving season on-track and bolster the team’s growing but still fragile confidence going forward.
This summer’s transfer window was at times frustrating and disappointing. So cast your mind back to less stressful days and test your knowledge of past United arrivals and departures in our quiz below.