Former Premier League manager Sam Allardyce knows a thing or two about bitter rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. Having managed against the pair of English giants during eight separate stints at different in the top flight of English football, the one-time England manager has seen both the best and worst of what the storied rivals have to offer.
But for Allardyce, Arsenal and young manager Mikel Arteta have left the Dudley-native impressed after their project at the Emirates has begun to hit full swing this season as the Gunners continue to stay within striking distance of a top-four finish for the first time in five seasons.
Once a thorn in Arsenal’s side when he was at the helm of Bolton Wanderers from 1999-2007, Allardyce heaped praise on Arteta’s young guns while tipping his hat at the former midfielder for the credible work he has achieved thus far.
“Arsenal are a good young team who seem to be improving all the time. Mikel Arteta has faced so many challenges in such a short time as a manager, and he’s dealt with them head-on. He’s decided that he’s going to be strong, which you have to admire; I certainly admire him for that.”
“He’s had a lot of big, senior players who haven’t been pulling their weight, and personally I think he’s dealt with those situations very well.”
“[Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, in particular, was the most recent example. That incident showed everyone at the football club that it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how big you think you are – if you’ve been honored with the captain’s armband for a club like Arsenal, to disrespect that, to disrespect the manager, and to disrespect Arsenal Football Club, I can’t sympathize with how Arteta deals with you. He dealt with that magnificently well, because it shows the rest of the team that there’s a certain level of expectation when it comes to discipline, and if you’re not going to adhere to that, you’re gone.”
Premier League woes for Manchester United
But while Arsenal has been praised for Sam Allardyce in the manner that the long-term project has shown results this season, Manchester United has come under scrutiny from the former Bolton boss despite the Red Devils currently sitting one place ahead of the Gunners in the Premier League table.
“David de Gea has made more saves than just about every other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season – that just shows you where Man United’s problems lie.”https://t.co/tczQ1yyXqd
— Football365 (@F365) February 15, 2022
It should not come as a surprise, however, after United finished runner-up in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign and after bringing in three key signings in the vein of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, and Raphäel Varane, the Old Trafford outfit is worse off than last term as they sit a whopping 23-points adrift of the table-topping city. For Allardyce, the issues are clear.
“The question is, can Manchester United – with the biggest and probably the most talented squad outside of the top three – come together and produce a run of games where they’re not going to throw silly points away.”
“Ralf Rangnick is finding it difficult to get the right balance between attack and defense at the minute. I find United’s defending absolutely shocking at the moment. David de Gea has made more saves than just about every other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season – that just shows you where Man United’s problems lie.”
“As a manager, it’s your responsibility to put that right. If he puts it right, he could pinch that fourth spot – but if nothing changes then they’re obviously going to find it difficult. I know that traditionally you’ve got to attack, attack, attack at Man United, but no team can attack without great defensive work. It doesn’t matter what position you’re in in the table, you can’t underestimate the value of a strong defense. If you want to win the league, you’ve got to have the best defensive record. It’s not rocket science, but nobody wants to talk about it because they perceive it as one of the negative sides of the game when in reality, it’s probably the most important aspect.”
Though Allardyce is correct in his assessment that a club of Manchester United’s size and standing across football history both at home and abroad dictates a situation that forces them to consider matters going forward more so than how they get on at the back, the difference between them and their biggest rivals is clear.
Note: All quotes provided in this article are courtesy of Football365.