The Street Blogger

Man United vs Arsenal: Why Arteta’s success could be a blueprint for United

Man United vs Arsenal: Why Arteta’s success could be a blueprint for United

England’s two most storied soccer teams meet Sunday, heading in very different directions.

Premier League leaders Arsenal are vying for a second title in a row as they look to finally end a two-decade wait to win the title.

Manchester United are desperate to avoid their worst result in the Premier League era.

Manager Erik ten Hag can still salvage the campaign by winning the FA Cup this month. But even beating Manchester City in the final won’t mask his team’s poor performance in the league as new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe rebuilds the struggling club.

Not so long ago, Arsenal condemned the fate of Mikel Arteta in a similar way.

Poached from City in 2019 when he was Pep Guardiola’s trusted lieutenant, Arteta won his first trophy with the FA Cup after finishing eighth in the league.

Three defeats in a row to start the next season included a 5-0 drubbing of City and calls for Arteta to be sacked. Arsenal have lost their chances of qualifying for the Champions League, losing seven of their last 12 games.

No decision has been made on Arteta, but Arsenal have backed his methods and proven their faith in him by giving him the authority to offload highly paid players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil. Much of the focus and money has been spent on young players who will grow with Arteta and buy into his methods, such as Martin Odegaard, Ben White and Declan Rice, who have been key figures in their rise over the past two seasons.

They led the league for 248 days last season, but their latest failure has drawn criticism. However, Arteta’s turnaround of a club that failed to qualify for the Champions League between 2016 and last year is a lesson in the benefits of patience and trust in the coach.

How Ten Hag hopes United will follow in Arsenal’s footsteps.

The Dutchman has repeatedly called for trust in his process, despite steadily worsening results.

United’s 13 league defeats are the highest in the Premier League. In total, United have 18 defeats.

United have won only one of their last seven league games against bottom-placed Sheffield United. In eighth place in the standings, he is on track for his worst finish of the era.

Such staggering numbers are why there is so much uncertainty surrounding Ten Haag’s position, even with the possibility of silverware.

He has pointed to a debilitating list of injuries all season and if he can challenge for the FA Cup final, he can point to back-to-back trophy campaigns not achieved by any United manager since Alex Ferguson.

Ten Haag, who also secured a top-four finish in his first season, can point to his second season as an exception.

Ferguson himself believed he needed the FA Cup in 1990 to relieve the pressure after finishing 13th in the division.

But Ten Haag’s team looks unbalanced. United appear tactically naive and have conceded 81 goals in all competitions so far, their best since the 1976-77 season.

United fans are more hopeful than certain that their team can spoil Arsenal’s title chase this weekend.

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