EPL

Arteta credits Ten Hag for Man Utd turnaround ahead of crucial test for leaders

By Sports Desk January 20, 2023

Mikel Arteta credited Erik ten Hag for overseeing a rapid transformation in Manchester United's fortunes ahead of Arsenal's huge Premier League clash with the Red Devils on Sunday.

Arsenal hold a five-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of facing United, who remain the only team to beat the Gunners in the competition this season, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in September.

While United's hopes of entering the title race appear slim following Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, the Red Devils are fancied to finish in the top four after going unbeaten in their past six Premier League games (W5 D1).

Having instigated a dramatic turnaround of his own at Emirates Stadium, Arteta has been impressed by Ten Hag's work at Old Trafford.

"It's very impressive. He's turned things around pretty quickly," Arteta said at Friday's pre-match press conference. 

"I think he has implemented a very clear way of playing. The players have bought into it and there's a really good energy around the place. 

"A lot of things have changed in a short period of time, so credit to him and the coaching staff for what they have done."

While United's in-form attacker Marcus Rashford has been involved in eight goals in his 10 Premier League starts against Arsenal, Arteta knows he will not be the only threat to his team on Sunday.

"It's not only him, unfortunately," Arteta said when asked how he would look to contain Rashford. "It's a lot of individuals and the collective organisation that they have. 

"We have to be very aware of that. I will try to do that. We prepare for games to try to hide the ways they have to create problems for us."

United were dealt a huge blow ahead of their trip to north London as midfield enforcer Casemiro received his fifth yellow card of the Premier League season at Palace, earning him a one-match ban.

However, Arteta noted the Brazil international did not start when United overcame Arsenal earlier in the season, adding: "It's something that we can't control. 

"He didn't play in our first game either and we still didn't do enough to win that match. When you look at the squad they have, it's incredible. 

"They have the individuals and collective organisation to beat any opponent in this league, but we'll plan the game knowing he's not available."

Meanwhile, Arsenal's bid for a first league title since the 2003-2004 season has seen skipper Martin Odegaard assume a central role, scoring a team-high eight Premier League goals.

Asked about Odegaard's development since he became captain last July, Arteta said: "He's done it in a very natural way. He's still a really young player with huge talent, but still with more desire than talent.

"He knows he can get much better and he's on that pathway, enjoying playing for us and contributing to the team in a really impactful way. He needs to continue to do that."

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    Thomas Tuchel’s men were on course for a much-needed comeback success at Europa-Park Stadion after eye-catching strikes from Mathys Tel and Jamal Musiala overturned Christian Gunter’s early opener.

    But, with Harry Kane largely peripheral, Freiburg forward Holer hooked home late on to leave Bayern seven points adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

    Xabi Alonso’s table-toppers can stretch their advantage to 10 points in Sunday’s derby at local rivals Cologne.

    Bayern ended a three-match losing run, during which it was announced Tuchel will leave at the end of the season, thanks to Kane’s brace in last weekend’s 2-1 success over RB Leipzig.

    The outgoing head coach made two enforced changes from that win as defender Kim Min-jae and 18-year-old forward Tel replaced the suspended Matthijs de Ligt and injured Leroy Sane.

    Bayern began slowly and were punished with just 12 minutes on the clock.

    Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer initially appeared to have rescued his side by producing a stunning save to repel Roland Sallai’s close-range header before touching the same player’s subsequent overhead kick on to the crossbar.

    But the Bavarians failed to fully clear the danger and Gunter, whose season has been severely disrupted by two broken arms, emphatically capitalised by lashing a left-footed drive into the bottom right corner from the edge of the 18-yard area.

    With England captain Kane struggling to make an impact, the away side were fortunate not to fall further behind.

    Neuer denied Gunter his second from a tight angle before Vincenzo Grifo flashed narrowly wide.

    After Thomas Muller and Kane each had penalty appeals waved away, Bayern were rewarded for a period of dominance with a spectacular 35th-minute equaliser.

    France Under-21 international Tel did the damage, marking his first Bundesliga start of the season by delightfully curling home from the left corner of Freiburg’s penalty box following a partially-cleared corner.

    Bayern could have led at the break as Musiala’s close-range poke was blocked by home keeper Noah Atubolu after Leon Goretzka and Raphael Guerreiro threatened.

    Kane dragged a left-footed effort wide early in the second period before later seeing a header cleared off the line after Musiala wasted a golden chance.

    Musiala soon made amends with a moment of magic, cutting in from the left and dancing beyond Kiliann Sildillia and Maximilian Eggestein to curl into the far corner.

    The fine solo strike looked to be enough for victory but the visitors paid a heavy price for failing to kill off the contest when Holer fired home on the turn following a long throw into the box.

    Bayern move on to the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Lazio looking to overturn a 1-0 aggregate deficit, while Freiburg prepare to begin their Europa League knockout tie with West Ham.

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    A post shared by Manchester United (@manchesterunited)

     

    “I already know the goalkeeper that I am,” the Cameroon international said. “It took me six months or seven months not to play good, just to feel good.

    “It was a difficult time for me. Now I’m feeling a bit better because everything was new, it was difficult for me to feel at home because of so many reasons, a new country.

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    “Yeah, I think I had a turning point, but not on the pitch because, like I said, more mental because everything was different,” he said.

    “Of course, I moved last season from Amsterdam to Milan, but that adaptation was quite easy.

    “But it took me seven, eight months here. It was just time to learn and just go game by game. I hope we will end on top.”

    Onana produced another solid display as United kept hopes alive of ending a bumpy campaign with silverware by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth round.

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    “My team-mates, my players, they always reminded me who I am and the goalkeeper I am and why I came to this club,” Onana said.

    “They told me ‘Andre, it took some players two years, others six months, for others no time, and you have that personality to turn the situation (around)’.

    “They always believed in me, they told me from the beginning, ‘Andre, listen, the quality is there, it’s just a matter of time.’

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    “I think everything is behind me. Now we have to move on and I think together a great time will come. We just have to do the right things and I think the future will be brilliant for all of us.”

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