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Manchester United v Arsenal

Neither Arsenal nor Man Utd will be challengers until at least 2022, says Gunners great Graham

9:54 AM WAT 30/09/2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United Unai Emery Arsenal
A man who spent time in north London as a player and coach, while also taking in a spell at Old Trafford, sees some serious rebuilding required

Neither Arsenal nor Manchester United will be in a position to challenge for the Premier League title for “three seasons at least”, says George Graham.

Rebuilding projects have been undertaken in north London and the North West.

Unai Emery is calling the shots at Emirates Stadium, while opposite number Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is charged with the task of restoring former glories at Old Trafford.

Both have faced questions of their methods and suitability to their current posts, with progress having not been as quick as some had hoped.

Graham, who spent time as a player and coach with Arsenal while also turning out for United, admits that more patience is going to be required as the Gunners and Red Devils seek a spark.

He feels it could be 2022 before either is a serious contender for domestic supremacy once again, telling the Daily Mail: “I can’t see either challenging at the top for three seasons at least.

“Even the top four will be tough for them right now. When standards slip, it’s hard to raise them again, and Liverpool and Manchester City aren’t going anywhere.

“People talk about a lack of leaders and they have a point, particularly at centre-half. Think about Tony Adams, John Terry, Vincent Kompany, Virgil van Dijk. Every Arsenal supporter wants a defender like that. United have been looking for years. They’ve signed Harry Maguire and hope he’s the answer. But that’s the word: ‘hoping’.

“United are under greater pressure because expectations there are higher, both for results and the style of play. It could be a good time for Arsenal to play them.”

The Gunners are due at Old Trafford on Monday evening.

Arsenal are currently three points better off than United after six games of the  campaign, but neither has kicked on as intended after investing more sizeable funds in recent transfer windows.

Graham added: “United will have money to spend. Arsenal will struggle to find the same money.

“Emery will have to try and improve the players he’s got. For both him and Solskjaer, it’s a waiting game.

“It may be the top fixture again one day. But I can’t see it happening soon.”

Graham believes Emery could be the man to get things right at Arsenal, with the Spaniard having shown that he is prepared to make brave calls.

A man who guided the Gunners to two First Division titles as manager, said: “Emery isn’t afraid to make decisions.

“If he thinks Mesut Ozil should come off, he’s off. I like that, it’s the job.

“I sold Charlie Nicholas who had done his stretch. If the team is struggling, make a decision and if you upset anyone, so what?

“I’m told the passion is back at the training ground, which is good. But you do need quality as well. There’s not many in the current Arsenal team I’d have taken. The forward line is clearly the strongest part of their team.”