Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United are preparing to take on table-topping Arsenal in the 16:30 kick-off on Sunday and the Dutch coach insists it’s a “real pleasure” to be facing numerous challenges with his new club (Match betting – United 8/5, Draw 13/5, Arsenal 17/10).
The former Ajax tactician was charged with the task of reviving the Red Devils’ fortunes after a dismal time last season, which saw them finish down in sixth place in the Premier League table.
After some promise in pre-season, it looked to be business as recently usual following successive defeats to start the campaign- a 2-1 loss to Brighton at home and a 4-0 hammering away at Brentford, with the knives being sharpened.
However, Ten Hag has since steered United to a three-match winning streak, started by a 2-1 victory over arch rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, before back-to-back 1-0 away victories at Southampton and Leicester City.
United (2/1 – Top 4 Finish) now have a chance to finish the weekend in the top four if they secure maximum points against the Gunners (4/9), and although the pressure is of a different kind now taking on leaders Arsenal, Ten Hag insists he is embracing everything that comes in his way.
“It’s great and a real pleasure to face this (challenge),” the Dutchman said as per the Independent.
“Every game is a challenge and that’s what I want, but it’s not about me. It’s about improving the team and working on progressing.”
Anthony Martial is still sidelined for Arsenal’s visit due to an Achilles issue, but Ten Hag may opt to give Casemiro his first start, the Brazilian having come off the bench in the last two matches, while big deadline-day signing Antony will hope to go straight into the matchday squad.
For the Gunners, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Reiss Nelson are all ruled out, while Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko are doubts.
In Sunday’s earlier kick-off at 14:00, Brighton entertain Leicester City at the Amex Stadium (Match betting – Brighton 10/11, Draw 13/5, Leicester 7/2), with the Foxes going into the match at the bottom of the table, having picked up just one point from their first five matches, that coming in an opening-day 2-2 draw with Brentford.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers could not hide his frustrations after Thursday’s defeat to United, but he must refocus quickly to try and kickstart his side’s campaign.
Next up are an Albion side who have impressed in their first four games, picking up 10 points while conceding only one goal, although Graham Potter’s men go into this clash on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Fulham last time out.