Chris Smalling: This is how we exposed Arsenal at the Emirates

by Marwan Harraz

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was one of the players who started the match against Arsenal and explained to supporters how the team exposed their hosts.

United travelled to the Emirates in a crucial match faced with the Gunners’ impressive record of being unbeaten at home this season.

The Red Devils though still came away with an important result, beating Arsene Wenger’s men 3-1 thanks to a brace from Jesse Lingard and a goal from Antonio Valencia.

Smalling started as part of a back three formation with Jose Mourinho relying on his squad’s tactical flexibility once more.

The formation tweak allowed Mourinho to partner Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku up front with the pair troubling Arsenal’s defence constantly.

Speaking to MUTV, Chris said: “I think we were carrying on from Watford and the fact that, when we play, obviously in this system, we can play with two strikers.

“Quite often, they [Arsenal] are only used to playing against one. We put two up front and put them under more pressure and they are not used to that.

“I think that was one to enjoy, for fans watching the game and for us as players. It was end to end, but for us to get those two early goals, I think, meant Arsenal had to come at us and that’s what made it a very entertaining game.”

Smalling has slowly worked his way into his manager’s good graces this season but whether he’ll remain a part of the team in the long term is yet to be seen.

In fact, the Englishman may have Jose’s need for tactical flexibility to thank after he remained at Old Trafford in a summer transfer window that most expected would see some defensive departures.

Chris seemed to be the most expendable defender considering Mourinho’s appreciation of Marcos Rojo and Phil jones.

Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were also both bought by the Portuguese manager and are unlikely to leave the club anytime soon.

With five defenders competing for what most fans predicted would be two first team spots, it’s fair to say that supporters weren’t wrong in their assumptions that someone would leave.

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