Mkhitaryan ‘has nothing to prove’ at Arsenal
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Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he has nothing to prove after leaving Manchester United to join up with best friend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Arsenal.
The 29-year-old ended a largely unhappy spell at Old Trafford as he moved south in a swap deal with contract rebel Alexis Sanchez last month.
Despite a big-money move to United in the summer of 2016, Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho never appeared convinced by Mkhitaryan.
The Armenia international often found himself on the fringes of the team but now has a new lease of life at Arsenal, setting up three goals on his full debut in last weekend’s 5-1 win over Everton.
Although he had a rough time in the north-west, Mkhitaryan wants to put the past behind him and find the sort of form that left United and Arsenal battling for his signature when he left Borussia Dortmund.
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“I don’t want to find excuses,” he said. “I don’t want to blame anyone, I’m starting a new chapter in my life, in my football career and I am very happy to be here.
“I will be pleased to achieve more than I have done in Manchester, of course. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I just have to enjoy myself, do my best and at the end I will see where I can reach.”
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While in Germany, Mkhitaryan struck up an understanding – on and off the pitch – with Dortmund team-mate Aubameyang.
Now Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has reunited the pair at the Emirates Stadium having completed a club-record deadline-day move to bring in Aubameyang from the Westfalenstadion.
The Gabon striker scored on his debut against Everton, assisted by Mkhitaryan, who is delighted to be working with his friend once again.
“I think it could only be in a dream that we could join another club other than Dortmund but I am very happy for that,” he added.
“I have known him very well, he is one of my best friends and the best team-mate I have ever had. I am very happy to have him here and I think all the fans are happy to see him in an Arsenal shirt.
“What can I say? I love playing with him. I can understand him from one step and hopefully for the next games we are going to achieve more.”
Although Mkhitaryan joined United, he has been a self-confessed Arsenal fan for over a decade having fallen in love with Wenger’s attacking philosophy and has lofty ambitions for his time at the club.
“I loved the way that Arsenal were playing at the time, I loved the way Arsene Wenger was treating his players, I loved the way that everything was happening around the club,” he explained.
“So it was just a dream, it was a drive to say ‘why not? I’m supporting Arsenal and I want to play for that club as well’.
“Of course first of all we have to win lots of games. Secondly, we have to think that we have to win titles because at the end of your football career only the titles mean something.
“I think if you play football, it doesn’t matter for which club, you have to achieve the maximum and you have to win titles because if you are playing just to play football it is better to stop playing it, you have to play to win titles and leave your name in the history of football.”
Arsenal could be without Petr Cech for today’s Premier League north London derby against Tottenham at Wembley.
The experienced goalkeeper was forced off in the win over Everton with a calf problem and has not trained since as David Ospina prepares to deputise.
Nacho Monreal also came off in that 5-1 victory due to illness but should be available to retain his place while Danny Welbeck (hip) is back in contention.