01 Dec Arsene Wenger wary of Manchester United power as Jose Mourinho makes his mark
Arsene Wenger believes the Manchester United team who will head to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday are now a true Jose Mourinho outfit.
Arsenal boss Wenger scored his first competitive win over Mourinho at the 16th time of asking when Arsenal won 2-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.
That victory in May was against a United side with more than one eye on their forthcoming Europa League final. But this season the Red Devils travel to north London focused only on staying as close as possible to Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Former Chelsea manager Mourinho has seen his side lose just twice in the league this campaign and long-term rival Wenger feels the current United team now reflect the character of their Portuguese leader.
Asked whether United have the mark of Mourinho about them, the Frenchman said: “Yes, certainly he has had time to put his print on the team, he is now in his second year.
“They look to be a strong team. They have power, they have a lot of power up front. Every player has power. Romelu Lukaku, now (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic is back you can’t say this guy lacks power; Marcus Rashford, (Anthony) Martial.
“They all have power, so our defensive performance will be important when we don’t have the ball against them. Overall I believe that they are a dangerous side, you look at their players and they can be dangerous everywhere.”
Arsenal have won their last 12 Premier League home games and have moved into the top four. Wenger believes their recent record can help build momentum and breed confidence among his players, even if he is keen to remain in the here and now.
“It’s important that you can win and the fact that you have quite a long history of winning games helps,” Wenger said.
“But what helps even more is the performance of the day, so I believe the history helps you to go into a good psychological condition, but to win the game you need to turn up with the performance. That’s why it’s important that we focus on that.”
Despite their good run, Arsenal are 12 points behind leaders City who have won all but one of their opening 14 league games.
Wenger feels Pep Guardiola’s side have had some luck along the way to remaining unbeaten at this stage of the season.
“I think they were a little bit lucky a few times this year and overall we have just to focus on our results and not focus on Manchester City,” he added.
Arsenal will be without club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette for the United game after the striker injured his groin in Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over Huddersfield.
Alexis Sanchez was forced off in the same game with a hamstring issue but Wenger remains hopeful that the Chile forward will be available against Mourinho’s men.