Henrikh Mkhitaryan takes swipe at Manchester United after joining Arsenal because they play 'offensive football'
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Manchester United ahead of his Arsenal debut after admitting that he was persuaded to move south to the Emirates Stadium because of the chance to play “offensive football”.
The 29-year-old is likely to feature in Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Swansea on Tuesday night, having been forced to wait for his debut as Arsenal had the weekend off due to their early FA Cup elimination.
With Arsenal fans desperate to see what their new signing can do following his swap deal with Alexis Sanchez last week, Mkhitaryan has spoken out about his reasons for joining the Gunners after just 18 months at Old Trafford.
The Armenia international has already spoken of the impact played by Arsene Wenger in his decision to join Arsenal, and he reiterated this “respect” for the Frenchman given his reputation at the club.
“Of course it's very important to have respect from your manager,” Mkhitaryan told Arsenal Player. “I know that he's demanding and he likes his players to explore.
“He was one of the [reasons] to join Arsenal as well because everyone knows he's a great manager."
It remains to be seen how Wenger will use Mkhitaryan, given that he is not the same player as Sanchez who ventured further forwards on the left of the Arsenal attack and was also given free licence to roam across the pitch.
Mkhitaryan offers a more disciplined option than Sanchez, but he arrives having struggled for form at United under Jose Mourinho.
But having spoken of his desire to play for Arsenal as early as 2009, Mkhitaryan believes that the style of football deployed by Wenger could well suit him more than it did at Old Trafford, with the winger taking a swipe at his former manager given his reputation for favouring the defensive side of the game.
“I've known him [Wenger] for a long time and of course it was not very difficult to make this decision to come to Arsenal, because I think the way that Arsenal play [make] it a dream for every player to come here and play offensive football,” he added.
Wenger could choose to stick with the 4-3-2-1 formation that he favoured when he had Sanchez and Mesut Özil to deploy behind first-choice striker Alexandre Lacazette, although the arrival of Mkhitaryan – and potential acquisition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – could yet see another tactical switch from the manager.