Henrikh Mkhitaryan has aimed a dig at Jose Mourinho‘s playing style after joining Arsenal, noting he was happy to be playing “offensive football” under Arsene Wenger.
The Armenian begun this season brightly, claiming five assists in three games, but eventually fell out of favour following a string of disappointing displays that has culminated in him making just one Premier League start since November 5.
And he has duly joined Arsenal this month as a result in a swap deal that sees Alexis Sanchez move the other way.
Speaking soon after arriving at the Emirates, Mkhitaryan sent a subtle dig in Mourinho’s direction when asked about his decision to move to North London.
“It was not very difficult to make this decision to come to Arsenal, because I think the way that Arsenal play [makes] it a dream for every player to come here and play offensive football,” he said.
Arsenal fans may interpret this quote as good Mourinho ammunition, but in reality it highlights a sobering truth about their new player and, by extension, their club as a whole.
When things became difficult at Old Trafford, Mkhitaryan never stood up to take ownership of the situation. Nice bloke, yeah, pretty good footballer, lovely to watch, sure. But the only time we really saw him thrive was when the conditions were right for him, the pitch nice and big, the opponents fatigued, players streaming forward.
This, I guess, explains why he belongs at Arsenal, a club stuck in a groundhog day nightmare of succeeding in the same areas and failing in the same areas, unable – or perhaps just reluctant – to develop anything different to combat the errors made in the past.
And therein lies the key difference between the two managers in question here: a Mourinho player would find a way to swim through toxic waste; a Wenger player, on the other hand, will only swim if the water is sparkly and turquoise.