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EPL: Teams on a roll, marquee clash set to get a new life

Arsenal, league leaders, take on Manchester United who are on the upswing
Eric ten Hag.
Eric ten Hag.
File picture

Our Bureau   |   London   |   Published 22.01.23, 04:51 AM

This is one storied fixture that had lost a bit of its shine over the years as the teams fell off the perch in the race for the English Premier League title.

But on Sunday, Arsenal and Manchester United meet at a time when both sides can feel that things are changing, that under Mikel Arteta and Eric ten Hag the legacy clubs are looking at a rebirth.


Arteta’s Arsenal have looked the best team in this season’s Premier League and they will need to implode if they are to concede the title to anyone else. But they will take on a United side which has won nine of their past 10 games and are getting their mojo back under their Dutch coach.

“Really impressive,” Arteta said of Ten Hag’s performance. “He’s turned things around pretty quickly. He’s implemented a very clear way of playing.”

Ten Hag returned the compliment, saying Arteta’s high-flying team has a “really good structure”.

“It is a really good mentality and a winning attitude in the team. That is why they are top of the list,” he said. 

United will be without influential midfielder Casemiro who picked up his fifth yellow card in the league this season during the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace in midweek.

“We have an idea of how to deal with that,” Ten Hag said of playing without Casemiro, who only came off the bench for the last 10 minutes in September’s game at Old Trafford which United won 3-1 to hand Arsenal their only league defeat this season. United of course will be relying on Marcus Rashford who has found new confidence under Ten Hag.

Arsenal’s new signing Leandro Trossard will likely be ready for selection against United, Arteta said, adding that he believed the Belgium international would have an immediate impact on the team.

The 28-year-old winger arrived at the Premier League leaders on Friday from Brighton & Hove Albion on a reported four-and-a-half-year year deal for a transfer fee of £27 million. Arteta also has the likes of Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka who can cause trouble for the United defence.

Both managers would know that Sunday’s clash is not a title showdown. Even if United win, they will be five points shy of Arsenal having played a game more. What matters is that they are finally a threat to each other at the business-end again. And a win will boost United’s chances of a return to the Champions League, something that would suffice for most at Old Trafford.

Written with inputs from Reuters

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