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Erik ten Hag made some questionable comments about Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal squad ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League clash against Real Betis on Thursday night
Arsenal fans have quickly and confidently debunked Erik ten Hag’s ‘lucky’ theory ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League games involving Manchester United and the Gunners.
Ten Hag raised eyebrows on Wednesday afternoon, when he claimed Mikel Arteta’s squad is “totally available” at the Emirates. The former Ajax manager noted the amount of injuries and suspensions his side have encountered this season.
Yet several Arsenal players have suffered serious injuries this term – including Gabriel Jesus, Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny. The likes of Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney have also spent time in the treatment room, while Eddie Nketiah is currently out.
As such, Arsenal fans on social media were perplexed by Ten Hag’s comments. “Our striker has been injured for almost half of the season,” wrote one supporter, while another added, “Imagine if Marcus Rashford was injured for that long, they’d be crying.”
Losing Jesus to a knee injury sustained at the World Cup was a particular blow, as many credited the Brazilian with Arsenal’s ascent to the top of the Premier League. His understudy Nketiah is not expected to play again for several weeks due to an ankle issue.
Ten Hag was speaking to the press ahead of United’s Europa League clash against Real Betis in Seville on Thursday night. The Red Devils won the first leg at Old Trafford 4-1 and seem destined to reach the quarter-finals of UEFA’s secondary club competition.
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Arsenal’s fate, however, hangs in the balance. Arteta’s side could only manage a 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their last-16 clash and will need to beat the Portuguese giants at the Emirates on Thursday night to progress.
Ten Hag’s comments were in regards to the Premier League title race. Arsenal have taken the division by surprise this season to go five points clear of Manchester City in second. United, meanwhile, are 16 points adrift of Arsenal with a game in hand.
The Red Devils have suffered their fair share of injuries this season. Christian Eriksen Alejandro Garnarcho and Donny van de Beek are long-term absentees, while Antony, Marcel Sabitzer and Victor Lindelof are all doubts for Thursday night’s game.
United’s star midfielder Casemiro is also about to start a four-game domestic ban after receiving his second red card of the season against Southampton last Sunday. Yet Ten Hag can have no persuasive complaints about either of the Brazilian’s dismissals.
“When you see all season we have had some setbacks, every time we’ve dealt with it,” Ten Hag told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s about the players who are available and every time there’s a team on the pitch who deals with it.
“In just one game we had the squad available totally and I was able to pick my team, from a tactical approach, perfectly – that was against Manchester City at home this season. Every other time it’s been one player suspended, injured, or unavailable through illness. We have to deal with it well but Arsenal, all the time their squad is totally available.”