Nine years on from 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal, Manchester United can learn lessons from squad depth
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Patrice Evra of Manchester United celebrates after team mate Nani scores their side's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on August 28, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

On this day in 2011 Manchester United hammered Arsenal 8-2 with Sir Alex Ferguson fielding a rotated squad.

The Old Trafford faithful saw five different scorers on the day, with Danny Welbeck opening the scoring on the day.

Former United captain Ashley Young got a double with two impressive long-range strikes. Wayne Rooney scored a hattrick of set pieces (two free-kicks and one penalty) earning him the match ball.

Luis Nani and Park Ji-sung got the remaining two goals for Sir Alex's men, with former red Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott getting two consolation goals for Arsenal.

Squad rotation

Starting XI on the day: David De Gea, Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Anderson, Nani, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

On the day United were without their captain at the time, Nemanja Vidic, and his centre-back partner Rio Ferdinand only featured on the bench.

Like Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs was named on the bench although he did come on as a substitute later on in the game. Paul Scholes was not in the squad on the day.

Dimitar Berbatov was also named on the bench, which seemed like a bold choice after he had his best-ever season in a United shirt the season prior.

United favourite Javier Hernandez was also left out but came off the bench early in the game for Welbeck who picked up an injury.

After such an emphatic performance, it was seen that the United squad was clearly blessed with talent and Sir Alex had players he could rely on when rotation was needed.

Looking back on this, comparing the current United team under Ole Gunnar Solskjær to the one in the 2011/12 season, it is clear to see that United's squad depth and the current quality of the team is poor in comparison to before.

United's current lack of 'good squad players' 

Since the days of Sir Alex, United have had many issues which have resulted in them being where they are now.

However, one of their biggest issues is the quality of squad players.

When the Reds have seen key players get injured over the years, such as Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and this year Marcus Rashford, United have struggled massively when trying to replace them with other members of the squad.

When Rashford picked up his injury just after Christmas this year, just before Bruno Fernandes joined the side, United were looking at youngster Daniel James who hasn't had much experience in the Premier League yet and is also more suited to the wing.

Solskjær also had the option of Mason Greenwood who has shown his quality over the last year. United should not have to rely heavily on the 18-year-old as this could have a negative effect on his development.

If Rooney was unavailable in that 2011 side, Ferguson always had a good backup option over the years, with the likes of Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Hernandez and many others available for the United manager.

This is down to good management and good business in the transfer market.

The question United face now is, what has changed?

United have got to give Solskjær time like they did with Ferguson.

The Norwegian needs time to build his squad and also needs to get rid of the 'dead wood' at the club.

When Ferguson was first appointed it took him a couple of years to get his squad right.

Solskjær has got to be clever with his signings but also needs the backing of the board if United want to get anywhere near what they were when Ferguson was in charge.

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