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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    Casemiro's second-half double and a neat finish from Fred earned United victory over Reading, who had Andy Carroll sent off but pulled one back through Amadou Salif Mbengue.

    United lost key midfielder Christian Eriksen to injury prior to the hour mark, but Ten Hag says it is too early to determine if the Denmark international is going to spend any time on the sidelines.

    "It's always difficult to say in this moment so short after the game has finished," he said.

    "But it's an ankle [problem]. We have to see what the diagnosis is, so it will be a minimum of 24 hours before we know that and then I can say more."

    United are back in action on Wednesday with the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Forest, before returning to league action at home to Crystal Palace next weekend.

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