As someone who plays a hell lot of FIFA similar to Louis van Gaal’s style, I can totally symphatise with why Manchester United lost. Van Gaal favours patient build-up play and holding on to possession. The more you hold on to the ball and pass it around, eventually an opening will come and the goalscoring chances will appear.
To understand the merits of this type of philosophy, re-watch the first six minutes of the match again. Notice how United barely even touched the ball as Arsenal dominated possession right from kick-off. You can argue that Michael Carrick was at fault for Alexis Sanchez’s goal by not closing him down fast enough, but it was a well worked Arsenal move.
So what do United do after the restart? They panic, and immediately abandon their philosophy by giving the ball away cheaply. Trying to fight back from 2-0 down with Van Gaal’s style of football is difficult, especially when you have a useless Wayne Rooney who is in the most important Number 10 role of a 4-2-3-1 formation. I knew then that the match was already lost.
I have always hated the 4-2-3-1 formation because it is a tactical style that is very poorly suited for comebacks (just ask Jurgen Klopp while he was at Borussia Dortmund). Had United started with two strikers a comeback could have been quite possible. I wish that Van Gaal has the courage to revert back to a diamond 4-1-2-1-2, or even the maligned 3-5-2 formation.
The only consolation that I can take from this crushing defeat is that Bayern Munich will face Arsenal at the Allianz Arena in the next Champions League fixture. Go on, Robert Lewandowski, send the Gunners crashing out of the tournament.