Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said that his team had rendered Arsenal’s “amazing players” invisible in a game in which the opposition’s late equaliser left him feeling like a defeated man.
Mourinho’s parting words as left his post-match press conference were: “So finally I lost against Arsenal!” – a joke he repeated three times. But he felt that Arsene Wenger’s side had been placed under total “control” by his own. “We didn’t see amazing [Arsenal] players,” he said. “We didn’t see them. [They were] so completely under control.”
United were undone by poor defending at the death, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s run down the right unchecked by Marcus Rashford and Olivier Giroud’s resulting header unchallenged by Phil Jones. The manager admitted his side had lacked central defensive strength in that critical moment, even though he defended Rashford.
“We don’t have very strong people in the air to cope with the cross,” he said. “[But] it is normal [with Rashford.] He is a young kid that I put for the last minute on the left side because I know he has the pace to deal with the pressure of a left back. Marcus was caught in a left back position.” Oxlade-Chamberlain, a substitute, was understandably less tired than Rashford, Mourinho added.
Despite the encouraging signs in the performance – including excellent displays from Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Antonio Valencia, as well as a more positive contribution from Paul Pogba – the 1-1 draw leaves United with only two wins out of nine in the Premier League and six points behind their North London opponents. Mourinho – a self-publicist, always inclined to accentuate the positive – seemed to hint at an awareness that questions are being asked about the time it is taking to turn his side around.
He said: “We know we are the unlucky team in the Premier League. [Against] Burnley, Stoke and Arsenal [we deserved] nine points easily. With those [nine points] we would be near the top of the league.
Manchester United vs Arsenal player ratings
Manchester United vs Arsenal player ratings
1/22 David de Gea - 4 out of 10
With Arsenal scoring their only shot on target, it’s not been the best day for the Spaniard. He had very little to do throughout.
2/22 Antonio Valencia - 8 out of 10
Performed exceptionally today, looking strong going forward and defensively.
3/22 Phil Jones - 5 out of 10
Did the simple stuff well at the back, but looked slow defensively at times.
4/22 Marcos Rojo - 6 out of 10
Defended well throughout proceedings, played safely and used possession well from the back.
5/22 Matteo Darmian - 5 out of 10
A mediocre performance from the Italian. He was lunging into challenges, despite already being armed with a yellow card.
6/22 Michael Carrick - 5 out of 10
The skipper played a very standard performance today. He played his role well and stuck to his position.
7/22 Ander Herrera - 7 out of 10
His work rate was faultless and he influenced play in the middle of the park – good overall performance.
8/22 Paul Pogba - 6 out of 10
He appeared to patrol the middle of the park in the first half, but in the second half he seemed to go off the boil. He did not make many chances and lacked any attacking prowess.
9/22 Juan Mata - 8 out of 10
An exceptional performance from the Spaniard today. His goal was an example of his immense technical ability and he created chances throughout.
10/22 Anthony Martial - 6 out of 10
A somewhat quiet performance from him today, but he showed glimpses of brilliance in the first half with a number of strikes that tested Cech.
11/22 Marcus Rashford - 6 out of 10
Despite being caught out for the late Arsenal goal, his performance throughout was positive. He attacked confidently and his crossing was inviting problems for the Arsenal defence.
12/22 Petr Cech - 6 out of 10
He made a number of important saves in the first half, but was out of position when Mata broke the deadlock.
13/22 Carl Jenkinson - 4 out of 10
It was a somewhat uncomfortable performance from him today, as he looked slow and unable to keep up with the pace of the United strike force.
14/22 Laurent Koscielny - 6 out of 10
He did well in the air today, but the United attack got the better of him at times as he was caught out of position.
15/22 Shkodran Mustafi - 5 out of 10
It was an incredibly mediocre performance by the German. He did well in possession, but that wasn’t enough at times.
16/22 Nacho Monreal - 5 out of 10
A questionable penalty call in the first half was the main incident for the Spainard. He failed to show his defensive ability against the quality of United going forward.
17/22 Francis Coquelin - 6 out of 10
Made a number of important tackles, but it wasn’t enough to stop his opponents running the midfield battle.
18/22 Mohamed Elneny - 4 out of 10
The Egyptian made a few unneeded and mistimed challenges and failed to show any sign of threat when going forward.
19/22 Aaron Ramsey - 5 out of 10
He had very little of the ball throughout, and when he did he failed to do much with it.
20/22 Mesut Ozil - 5 out of 10
Taking into account his huge talent, it was a rather dim performance. He failed to create chances and feed Sanchez which resulted in Arsenal having no spark going forward.
21/22 Theo Walcott - 4 out of 10
A very quiet performance from the winger today. He saw very little of the ball and was regularly caught playing too narrow which left Arsenal with no width to their attacks.
22/22 Alexis Sanchez - 6 out of 10
He looked dangerous when in possession, but a lack of service did not allow him to make a real impact on the game.
“How long [has] Mr Wenger [had] with his team? How long is Maurice [Mauricio Pochettino] with his team at Tottenham? How long is Klopp with his team? Chelsea and Liverpool don’t play in Europe. If you remember what Brendan Rodgers did with Liverpool two years ago when they didn’t have to play in Europe. The level of experience of Man City… We are in a very difficult Premier League. I know the players know, the board know, the owners know, the public and the Man United fans know. We are very, very happy with our work.”
Wenger admitted that his side had lacked intensity in the match. “Maybe it’s a mental block here because for a while it didn’t go well for us here,” he said. “Was it fatigue a mental switch on after the international break? I don’t know. I don’t think that’s an explanation. Offensively we’ve played better and we did not have our usual style going forward. We were not sharp enough.”
Wenger joked that it would be “pretentious” to suggest that the equaliser - created and finished by his substitutes – had been planned but said his team had defended well and then cashed in when United “dropped off and left us the ball.” He said: “There is something remarkable [about my team], great resilience and never-give-up attitude.”
Mourinho said his side deserved a penalty when Nacho Monreal reached across the excellent Valencia in the area in the first half but refused to criticise referee Andre Marriner, whom he said was “balanced” a an official. Wenger felt it was not a penalty.
Wenger admitted that Giroud – who has now scored more goals than any other Arsenal player as a substitute – had been frustrated by being on the side-lines. “I consider him a regular player,” he said. “He had a long holiday [after the European Championships] and after that he came back injured. The last few games he is frustrated. He is ready to go again. [Alexis] Sanchez at the start of the season worked well. Sanchez can play on the flank. Olivier can only play through the middle. I can marry the two together.”Reuse content