Thierry Henry has urged Arsenal to make a ‘statement’ against Premier League rivals Manchester United and says he wants to see more ‘improvement’ from Mikel Arteta’s side following their encouraging run.
Following a dismal start to the season, Arsenal have won ten of their last 12 games in all competitions to climb to fifth in the table, one point outside the Champions League places with a game in hand.
Henry insists Arteta is doing a good job but insists the team’s recent record has been flattered by some favourable fixtures, and says Arsenal need to start beating their top-four rivals.
Arsenal’s only defeat since August came at the hands of Liverpool last month, with the Reds easing to a 4-0 win at Anfield, and Henry wants his former club to start competing with the best teams in the Premier League.
Arteta’s side travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Thursday night and while Henry acknowledges that the Red Devils are not the force they once were, he says the fixture represents an opportunity for Arsenal to make a ‘statement’.
Asked about Arsenal’s recent form, Henry told Prime Video: ‘It showed we can beat Newcastle at home. We can beat Burnley, we can beat Aston Villa before Steven Gerrard arrived. We can beat Leicester with 27% possession.
‘I think personally winning against those teams – and I’m not having a go – but I expect it from Arsenal when they play one game a week.
‘Now the improvement is can you beat the teams at the top? That’s the improvement I want to see and am waiting to see tomorrow at Old Trafford.
‘Every time they play a team they should lose against they not only lose but they get smashed. The improvement I want to see is can they get top-four?
‘I’m an Arsenal fan and I think Mikel Arteta is doing well, but I want to see that improvement.
‘Manchester United are not in the top-four but it can be a statement to go there and win and win well.
‘We’re talking about Arsenal. I’m not over the moon by a Newcastle win, I want to see them win at Old Trafford tomorrow.’
Arteta, meanwhile, has admitted preparations for Thursday’s Premier League clash have been made trickier by the changing circumstances around the Manchester United managerial situation.
German boss Ralf Rangnick was appointed interim manager at Old Trafford on Monday but will not be in the dugout for the Arsenal game as he is still waiting for a work permit, although he is expected to be in the stadium.
‘It’s very difficult tactically, because you don’t know how they will prepare,’ said Arteta.
‘Their squad is one of the most talented in the league, so you know the options they have and the formations they can vary.
‘We didn’t know if he [Rangnick] would be sitting on the bench or taking training sessions.
‘We tried to gather information to understand more, but we don’t know the influence of the new coach. It’s been trickier than usual.’
While Arsenal have been climbing up the Premier League table, Manchester United were just seventh when former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked and find themselves 10th ahead of the visit of Arsenal.
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