Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag appeared to ignore Arsenal when discussing the biggest threats and rivals in the Premier League, even though the Gunners have set the pace this season.
Arsenal went into the World Cup break five points clear of Manchester City with 14 games played, more than a third of the campaign. The Gunners haven’t won the Premier League title since 2003/04, nor even mounted a serious challenge since 2007/08.
With Premier League football to resume immediately after Christmas, United are 11 points adrift of Arsenal. Ten Hag’s side sit fifth in the current standings, three points off the top four, although they have a game in hand on both Tottenham and Newcastle.
“There’s a change in circumstances when you compare [the Premier League] with five or 10 years ago. The competition is much tougher,” Ten Hag told reporters this week when reflecting on the nature of the league.
The Dutchman also spoke about Newcastle’s vast and sudden improvement, and even namedropped West Ham, who have finished top seven in each of the last two seasons, but not Arsenal.
“Newcastle are coming, even West Ham, maybe not now in the table but they have huge investment. Spurs definitely and I don’t need to talk about City and Liverpool or Chelsea. You can quickly count seven or eight clubs that can compete in this league,” the boss said.
“It’s also about strategy, not just money. But it’s clear that when you don’t have the right players and quality players you will not be successful and achieve the targets you set.”