THE TAKE

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will thrive at Arsenal while Man United may have an issue with Alexis Sanchez

This week's 'The Take' offers Arsenal fans some reasons to be cheerful

Arsenal fans deserve some reasons to be cheerful.

Watching your best player join a team you have history in a swap deal is a painful experience.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, in a year we may look back at this month as something of a positive turning point for the Gunners.

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First of all, let’s remember the talent lurking within Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Armenian’s numbers in his last season for Borussia Dortmund are evidence of an incredibly effective attacking midfielder.

23 goals and 32 assists in all competitions can’t be argued with and it’s remembering that much of that success came in combination with Emirates-bound Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In 2015/16 Mkhitaryan was matched by few when it came to through balls and technical possession in tight pockets of space.

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Once upon a time

So why has he underwhelmed for Man United?

Well, for a start, the indications that he is too lightweight and not disciplined enough in defence are nonsense.

Mkhitaryan played under Mr. Gegenpress himself Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund and did his fair share of hustling, pressing and dispossessing.

Jose Mourinho prefers his teams to be more structured in defence — threats are to be guarded and monitored rather than hurried and hassled.

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Has Jose used Micky correctly?

In terms of attacking, Mourinho generally let’s his players sort it out for themselves, at least that’s what Eden Hazard says.

United place a greater emphasis on direct counter-attacking and Mkhitaryan doesn’t have the pace of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard or Marcus Rashford.

He will suit Arsenal’s more patient, methodical approach.

He has the vision and decision-making to unlock a team camped in their own half and find space in a cramped pitch.

If Arsene Wenger can engineer a system that deploys Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil in the same way Pep Guardiola has used David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, the Emirates faithful may be in for a treat.

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Many will say that the last thing Arsenal need is a technical creative midfielder but with Sanchez searching for luxurious dog homes in Cheshire and Mesut Ozil possibly asking him to hold the door, the club could so with some star quality.

The Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang partnership worked once upon a time and it can work again.

Whether they can play alongside Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette respectively is another conversation.

Fans should feel positive about Mkhitaryan’s arrivals, despite what United fans would have them think, he isn’t a flop, far from it.

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The Armenian Messi will rise again

And it may not be all smiles at Old Trafford.

Don’t get me wrong, Sanchez is a wonderful player, top class.

But nobody has given the ball away more in the Premier League since the start of the 2014/15 season.

Now, that stat doesn’t really matter when you take into account his goal return (60 goals in 122 games) — the Chilean’s impulsive, explosive style is the root of his success.

However, when you factor in that Romelu Lukaku is second on the list, United may have a tactical issue.

It’ll be interesting to see how the two players who have lost the ball most in the last two and a half seasons interact.

Sanchez didn’t trust three quarters of his Arsenal team-mate’s in possession, how long before he puts Lukaku on the ‘DO NOT PASS’ list?

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Good job the bench at Old Trafford is comfortable

Perhaps Mourinho will have to choose between his newest signing and his £75million star striker?

It would be harsh to drop Martial in favour of Sanchez on the left wing, the Frenchman has found his groove again and fits the current system perfectly.

Lingard has secured his place in the starting line-up this season, which means either one of Sanchez or Martial would have to play from the right or either of them could start up front ahead of Lukaku.

This is quite a nice problem to have of course, but juggling an attacking unit is not Mourinho’s speciality.

A host of star forwards does not necessarily equal success — just look at Real Madrid this season.


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