Sunday’s clash between Manchester United and Arsenal was an exhilarating contest, worthy of the hype and build-up. And in the end, the Red Devils ended the Gunners’ unbeaten run with a smashing 3-1 win.
Whether United are truly back is a question which will be answered at the end of the season, but for now Erik ten Hag‘s methods certainly seem to be bearing fruit.
United look like a team
The current team exudes passion and desire, a much-derided concept under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but one certainly held in equally high regard by the current Dutch manager as he explained to Roy Keane at the end of the game.
The former Ajax boss deserves praise for the way he has managed to bring back the fire in the belly of players who seemed to have lost it under Ralf Rangnick last season.
Marcus Rashford already has 3 goals and two assists in four games and Bruno Fernandes is also back to his best which can be best encapsulated with his pass for the second goal against the North London side.
The resurgence of the Portuguese ‘magnifico’ is also partly due to the intelligence of Christian Eriksen. The Dane’s arrival has completely changed the dynamics of United’s midfield.
In previous seasons since the Portugal international’s arrival, it was mainly up to him to shoulder the bulk of the responsibilities when it came to creating chances for his forward players while Fred and Scott McTominay tried to hold the fort together.
Eriksen the key
This season, Eriksen has served as the link man, coming short to gather passes from the defence or from McTominay and then either spraying the ball out wide or playing crucial line-breaking passes into the feet of Fernandes.
That was on full display for all three goals against Mikel Arteta’s team. The first goal was started off by Eriksen playing a brilliant line-breaking ball into space which was then collected by the attacking midfielder. The ball eventually found its way to Antony who scored on his United debut.
Christian Eriksen’s heart stopped. He was lucky to be alive, let alone play football again within seven months. Now, little more than a year later, he’s bossing games for the biggest club in England. What a man. 👏 #mufc pic.twitter.com/CIDChmLurq
— Dominic Booth (@DomBooth19) September 4, 2022
The third goal saw a fine late run from the Denmark international, which caught the Arsenal rearguard off guard and he unselfishly laid it on a plate for Rashford to extend United’s lead.
It has been quite the turnaround from both the club and Eriksen himself after the first two defeats and the manager had nothing but words of praise for his new recruit.
“We put him a little more down on the pitch, like a No. 6/No. 8 role. He has a lot of freedom and can make a game for you, make the switch of play, he sees a pass between the lines, makes the final pass and goes into attack to score a goal.
“He can improve his [defending]. When he plays like today one small mistake, we’ll give him that. He played a magnificent game,” The Telegraph quoted Ten Hag as saying after the game.
The publication succinctly summed up the Dane’s contribution in United’s winning run by saying, “United’s new £85 million signing Antony may have enjoyed a dream start with a debut goal to remember but it was the man signed on a free transfer who got the team playing.”
High praise indeed for a man who deserves nothing less.