Arsenal are preparing for the biggest game of their Premier League season so far when they travel to Old Trafford on Thursday for a crunch meeting with Manchester United.
Every game this season for Mikel Arteta’s side is important but clashes away at the likes of Liverpool have less bearing than others. Matches against the best three sides in the division will not define the campaign.
Showdowns with fellow European chasers Manchester United, however, definitely will.
Bouncing back from their Anfield drubbing with a fairly routine win over Newcastle set Arsenal up for their midweek meeting, one that was expected to be the first in charge for interim manager Ralf Rangnick. Having already swerved a potential ‘new manager bounce’ with Eddie Howe, another is on the horizon.
Arsenal could be spared Ralf Rangnick boost against Manchester United with new interim boss still working on getting visa in time for Premier League clash
However, as per the Mirror’s Manchester United correspondent David McDonnell, caretaker boss Michael Carrick is ‘almost certain to remain in charge’ as the Red Devils are still sorting out the terms of the German’s six-month contract that will see him take up a two-year consultancy role at the end of the season.
As such, the following Sunday meeting with Crystal Palace looks set to be his first game at the helm. Securing a visa under Brexit laws is proving troublesome.
It’s almost impossible to determine whether or not this will come as a boost to Arsenal, but from a United perspective they would have been hoping for Rangnick to make his bow in a colossal encounter that could have serious repercussions on the hunt for a European berth, despite it being so soon into the season.
Matches against the cluster below the runaway three are where the true colours of this Arsenal team will be shown, and the introduction of a new face in the dugout almost always has a positive impact on the players looking to make an immediate impression.
While Carrick secured a 2-0 win on his first game away at Villarreal, he is still part of the exact same coaching team that struggled under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure and what exactly will change isn’t thought to be a great deal.
There are various reports on this suggesting one way or the other, and one exclusive from the Mirror isn’t confirmation despite the confidence of the report. There is usually plenty of 50/50 assumptions that are made, which this may well be.
Yet whenever Rangnick comes in he will need time to get his ideas across. A man known for wanting to score within ten seconds of assuming possession and eyeing that his team win the ball back within eight is in stark contrast to the counter-attacking style that Solskjaer built his team around.
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But if the option was there to have Carrick or Rangnick in charge, for the soft factors alone Arsenal would surely rather it was the former.