by Ben Topliss

With Manchester United chasing the game against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Monday night, Louis van Gaal looked behind him and saw Juan Mata on his substitute’s bench.

The Spaniard would have been perfect to unlock a stubborn Arsenal back line, but van Gaal instead opted to throw on Adnan Januzaj before lumping the ball up to Marouane Fellaini up top.

It was a desperately negative tactic and one Arsenal handled with consummate ease as they secured a 2-1 victory.

The episode must have taught van Gaal a lesson or two and Mata must surely now start against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Operating in the hole in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Mata could pick out Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young on the wings and play Wayne Rooney in behind the Spurs defence.

A midfield partnership of Daley Blind and Michael Carrick could give Mata the freedom to do this by mopping up any danger behind him.

Elsewhere, Rafael may make his long awaited return to the starting XI following Antonio Valencia’s disastrous display against the Gunners. He would compliment Luke Shaw on the other flank should the 19-year-old be back to full fitness.


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