LONDON • Louis van Gaal believes that the first five-goal performance he has witnessed at Manchester United could be a turning point in the season, and says his young players are excited about the prospect of playing Arsenal today.
Teenager Marcus Rashford, just 18, netted twice on his debut in the 5-1 win over Midtjylland in the Europa League while Memphis Depay, 22, played one of his best games of the season.
"I have never seen the dressing room quite so happy and relaxed," van Gaal said.
"Not only the players who played, but those on the bench and those who are injured, they were all laughing and talking with each other and happy. It has been quite a long time since that happened."
Van Gaal, aware that the Danish minnows might not have represented the highest level of European competition, is keen to keep a sense of perspective.
Man United’s points tally after 26 matches this EPL season, the lowest they have recorded at this stage of an EPL campaign.
Goals scored by Arsenal so far this season, behind Leicester and Man City (both 48) and Tottenham (47).
Number of matches where Arsenal have failed to score in their last eight games.
"We can take confidence into the game from our last win but we have to play against one of the best teams in the Premier League, and we have to do it after playing on a Thursday evening," he said.
"That is more of a challenge but I think the recovery shall go better than ever after winning so well."
At least he has the back-to-back wins he was demanding to help restore United's fear factor, even though their points tally of 41 from 26 games is the lowest they have recorded at this stage of a Premier League campaign.
Arsenal have a worrying statistic of their own - they have the fewest goals this season of the four title contenders.
After 26 games, they have 41 goals, compared to Leicester City's and Manchester City's 48 as well as Tottenham Hotspur's 47.
The Gunners have not scored in five of their last eight games and Arsene Wenger admitted he is concerned by his team's lack of goals.
"It's going through my head. I agree that our goals have dried up seriously and we have to find a solution," said the Frenchman.
His challenge to his players is to replicate the urgency and intensity they produced in the 3-0 win over United in October.
"We took them a little bit by surprise and we played at a high pace from the start and closed down well early on," Wenger said.
"We need to play at that high pace again to be dangerous. If we don't have that I don't see how we can win there."
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON
MAN UNITED V ARSENAL
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