Manchester United may have only achieved one point

Spread the love

Pre-season friendly results don’t count for much and while United won just once on their US tour, that victory over Premier League rivals Arsenal did signal the Reds’ ambitions and capabilities of overhauling the Gunners this season.

Nine points separated the sides last term as the closest challengers to Manchester City, who won the treble last year. United are entering their second season under Erik ten Hag and, like Arsenal 12 months ago, look to have settled principles, players and plans.

United’s clear and decisive transfer strategy has left the Reds well-placed to push on in 2023-24. Rasmus Hojlund will be the third summer arrival, with Ten Hag getting a new striker before the start of the season. Together with a new first-choice goalkeeper in the shape of Andre Onana and the addition of Mason Mount, United have secured three crucial signings in positions that needed addressing.

It’s a show of faith in Ten Hag, who steered his side to third place in the Premier League in his first campaign at Old Trafford. He also won a pair of domestic finals, including the Carabao Cup over Newcastle United. He also lost a derby defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup.

Ten Hag’s next challenge is to close the gap to their city rivals in the league. This is as they chase a first title since Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s a feeling that United are well placed to improve on last season. To do so they’ll need to prove they can compete with the best the Premier League has to offer.

That includes Arsenal, which challenged City for large parts of last season before falling short. Gunners boss Arteta has spent heavily again this summer, following a significant outlay 12 months ago.

Last summer, Arsenal signed Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City, ready-made talent at either end of the pitch. United have acted similarly this summer with Onana and Mount, while Hojlund will arrive bursting with potential and ability.

There are parallels between the two clubs. Last season saw Arteta start a campaign with ‘his’ side. Ten Hag will have similar feelings this time around, with potentially seven of his opening-day starters signed under his watch.

Ten Hag, like Arteta, has the time and money to implement a vision. The Dutchman will hope it can help United leapfrog the Gunners and push for the title. The Reds beat Arsenal in a summer friendly, after which Gunners star Bukayo Saka accepted how strong a side Ten Hag has put together.

“You can’t really give two goals away like that against a team like this because then it’s really hard to come back. We just need to learn from it,” said the England international.

Arsenal have strengthened further this summer but United are moulding into what Ten Hag wants, and that bodes well for the season ahead. Manchester Evening

Spread the love