Manchester United may be without midfielder Casemiro for this Sunday’s clash at Emirates Stadium but Mikel Arteta has warned his side against any complacency, pointing out the Brazil international wasn’t part of the squad that beat the Gunners at Old Trafford in September.
Casemiro has been a vital cog in the Red Devils’ midfield since arriving from Real Madrid but picked up a fifth yellow card against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night which means he’ll be suspended when his teammates head to the Emirates.
United have lost only once in their last 10 Premier League matches and will be considered genuine title challengers if they secure a first league win away at Arsenal since 2017.
“It’s something that we can’t control [his absence], but he didn’t play in our first game either and we still didn’t do enough to win that match,” said Arteta in his pre-game press conference.
“When you look at their squad they have, they have the individuals and collective organisation to beat any opponent in this league but we’ll plan the game knowing he won’t be available, that’s for sure.”
United’s 3-1 win against the Gunners remains Arteta’s only league defeat of the season. Asked if he and his players will be motivated by revenge this weekend, he responded: “We have to learn, there were some important lessons in that game and the reason why we lost it when in many moments we had total control of the game.
“We know it’s one of the qualities of United when you are in control of the match, the game gets away from you because they have so much individual talent, good organisations and many ways to cause problems. We have to be at our best to win on Sunday.”
Casemiro’s late card at Selhurst Park wasn’t the only blow for manager Erik Ten Hag. In stoppage time, he stood helpless on the touchline as Michael Olise crashed home an incredible free-kick to deny his side the three points they probably deserved. It was their first dropped points in the league in six outings.
Asked whether the wind will have been taken out of United’s sails by the late equaliser, Arteta continued: “I don’t know. What happens with the other teams and results…there’s still half of the league [season] to go. There are a lot of twists and turns still to go. We have to be consistent in what we do, play the best possible way and the rest will take care of itself.”
He added: “The history and the clashes and the way those two sides [Arsenal and United] have competed, it tells you everything you need to know about the match, it’s a huge game in the league, the country, around the world and we have to prepare for that. The table says what it says this season, right now. Our main focus is on being prepared for a big match.”
Given Ten Hag has only had one transfer window to change things at Old Trafford, the progress made by United since his arrival in April has been impressive. Arguably his biggest success was seeing off the challenge posed to his authority by Ronaldo, who departed the club on the eve of the World Cup. They’ve not looked back since and Arteta couldn’t hide his admiration for his opposite number.
“It’s really impressive, he’s turned things around pretty quickly” he said. “He has implemented a very clear way of playing, the players have bought into it, they have really good energy around the place and a lot of things have changed in a short space of time so credit to him and his coaching staff for what they’ve done.”