Mkhitaryan's elite form proves Wenger can do something Mourinho never could

2018-03-11 17:42:06

The nightmare is over at Arsenal … for now.

Back-to-back wins in the Europa League and Premier League have eased the intense pressure that was on Arsene Wenger’s head following last weekend’s defeat to Brighton.

Defeating AC Milan proved the Gunners can still show up and claim an important result when most needed, while Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Watford was the kind of emphatic win that calms nerves even further.

The performance would have been even sweeter for Wenger seeing as Arsenal’s second and third goals were created and scored by players brought to the club by the Frenchman in January.

Firstly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to round Orestis Karnezis and finish into the empty net, before Aubameyang returned the favour - assisting his former Borussia Dortmund teammate 13 minutes from time.

It appears Wenger has found the best way to get the most out of Mkhitaryan, following his rather lacklustre time at Manchester United .

Aside from the rare flash of brilliance, Armenia international Mkhitaryan looked a shadow of his former self following his summer 2016 transfer to Old Trafford. He especially struggled this season, with performances growing steadily worse after a bright opening few weeks to the campaign.

Jose Mourinho , the United manager, seem either unable or unwilling to try and help Mkhitaryan find his best form, and, in the end, Mourinho gave up on the 29-year-old - accepting his transfer to Arsenal.

And Mourinho’s inability means praise has to be directed at Wenger for coaxing a series of effective performances out of a player who appeared truly woeful just a couple of months ago.

In his 15 Premier League matches for Man United in 2017/18, Mkhitaryan was directly involved in just six goals (one goal, five assists).

Incredibly, in just SIX top flight games for the Gunners, Mkhitaryan has only one fewer goal involvement than he managed while with Mourinho’s side (one goal, four assists).

This does not excuse Wenger all his faults - of which there are many - and issues still exist with every aspect of the Arsenal team

However, Mkhitaryan’s improvement since joining Arsenal is a reminder that Wenger remains a truly gifted coach who, with the right player at his disposal, can mould an elite performer out of someone who has been forced to play under the wrong manager - like Mourinho and his staid football - for far too long.

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