Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is finally showing the Premier League just how good he can be, football features writer Nick Wright says in an article published on Sky Sports as he examines the Armenia international's quiet rise to prominence ahead of the Gunners' Super Sunday clash with his former club Manchester United.
For a long time, Wright says it seemed neither side would benefit much from the swap deal which took Alexis Sanchez one way and sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan the other. But while Sanchez's Manchester misery continues, "Mkhitaryan is belatedly blossoming at Arsenal. Since his return from injury at the start of last month, he has arguably been their best and most important player."
He made his comeback in the 2-1 win over Huddersfield, playing a key role in Alexandre Lacazette's decisive goal at the John Smith's Stadium, and that was followed by a string of goals and assists against Southampton and Bournemouth. On Saturday, he produced another impressive display in the north London derby against Tottenham.
"Like at Dortmund, Arsenal's counter-attacks tend to travel through Mkhitaryan and it is no coincidence. The Armenian is always alert, always looking forward, and when the opportunities arise he also has the vision and technique required to pick the right passes and execute them," the article reads.
"Against Spurs, he was at the heart of almost every attack. Midway through the second half, he sent Aubameyang through on goal with one perfectly-weighted slide-rule pass. Then, in the closing stages, he released the Gabon striker to win Arsenal's penalty following another excellent run which started with a dribble around Jan Vertonghen in his own half.
"Together with his technical quality, those attributes help to explain how, free from injury problems, Mkhitaryan has become so important to his manager. Since his return to action last month, it is no coincidence that he has started six consecutive games in all competitions.
"That only happened once during his time at Manchester United, but Mkhitaryan is likely to be one of the first names on Emery's team sheet when Arsenal face his former side on Sunday."