The position of both teams is somewhat unexpected considering the question marks which hung over each club coming into the new season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta came under pressure last season after a poor start which eventually cost the club a Champions League spot after being edged out by North London rival Tottenham Hotspur.
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Arteta’s belief in his vision for the club has borne fruit this season with Arsenal sitting five points clear at the top, with a game in hand.
Arteta’s ability to make tough decisions during his tenure without apology, including letting go of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and installing Martin Odegaard as club captain, has contributed to the turnaround in Arsenal’s fortunes this season.
The signing of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City as well as the form of his central midfield three of Odegaard, Partey and Xhaka has seen an Arsenal team showcasing both a ruthless edge as well as an ability to grind out results.
Arteta has instilled a belief and attitude within his squad which has not been seen in an Arsenal team since the early Arsene Wenger years. Arteta though does acknowledge the hard work has only just begun and for Arsenal to truly dine out at the elite table of European football much improvement is still needed.
“How you measure success is lifting trophies, but as well as you have to understand where we were and how fractured the club and the environment looked,” said Arteta.
“How it looks now is a credit to everyone.”
Much like Arteta, Erik Ten Hag walked into Manchester United and quickly realised how much work lay ahead of him.
Ten Hag’s move from the comfortable surroundings of Ajax to the global juggernaut of Manchester United required an individual who both understood the enormity of the club as well as the mental fortitude to deal with the scrutiny and Spotlight.
Manchester United’s inability as a club to move forward from the Sir Alex Ferguson years has seen the once mighty cauldron of Old Trafford become a laughingstock as mismanaged managerial appointments along with poor player recruitment has resulted in less than desirable results on the field.
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Ten Hag knew the task of turning Manchester United into a European force once again would not be an overnight job, but instead would take a clear and precise vision from him.
The challenge which was presented to Ten Hag at the start of the season has seemingly been one which he has relished as United’s steady improvement has seen them comfortably sitting inside the top four in the Premier League as well as still being involved in three cup competitions.
Ten Hag’s ability to handle ego’s within the dressing room including the now departed Cristiano Ronaldo as well as former club captain and England centre back Harry Maguire, has seen him gain a new respect from both the playing squad and fans of Manchester United.
Unlike the managers which have come and gone since Ferguson retired in 2013, Ten Hag has implemented a clear vision for Manchester United in both the way they play and the characters which are brought into the club.
Ten Hag though will have to do without his inspirational central midfield general Casemiro for the trip to the Emirates after the Brazilian picked up a yellow card in United’s mid-week clash against Crystal Palace but remained in a confident mood when questioned about this by Sky Sports.
“Casemiro is obviously a really important player for us and he is one of the reasons that we are in the position that we are now,” said Casemiro.
“We have a squad and we have to fill that gap and make a proper plan and the squad has to fill it. As a team, we already showed how to beat Arsenal.”
Manchester United against Arsenal always attracts attention and is synonymous with the history of the Premier League.
Arteta and Ten Hag will both know the importance of this latest clash as two giants of English football look to reassert their dominance and in doing so represent the vision of their managers which are hoping to guide them to the pinnacle once again.