Hits & misses: Man Utd swap possession for points | Arsenal show ‘immaturity’

Man Utd swap possession for points

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s win against Arsenal

The expectation when Erik ten Hag arrived at Manchester United was that he would attempt to implement the attacking, possession-based style of play that served him so well at Ajax.

That certainly seemed to be the case in the Dutchman’s first two matches in charge. Man Utd dominated possession against both Brighton and Brentford, but had no points to show for it and found themselves bottom of the Premier League.

Ten Hag responded by dropping Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw for the visit of Liverpool, but he also made a more subtle tweak that has coincided with their dramatic upturn in form.

After seeing so much of the ball in their opening fixtures, Man Utd had less than 30 per cent of possession against Jurgen Klopp’s side, yet claimed a vital 2-1 win.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag chats to the Super Sunday panel after his side’s 3-1 win against Arsenal at Old Trafford

It’s a theme that’s continued in their games since. Southampton made more passes in the opposition half when Man Utd came to St Mary’s but ended up losing 1-0 – as did Leicester, despite also having more of the ball than Ten Hag’s side at the King Power Stadium.

Arsenal dominated much of the play at Old Trafford on Sunday – ending up with more than 60 per cent of possession – but were well-beaten by full-time as Man Utd exposed Mikel Arteta’s team on the counter-attack.

After six games in charge, Ten Hag may not see the side he imagined a few months ago – “there is still a lot of room for improvement” he told Sky Sports after seeing off the Gunners – but what he will see is a winning team.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Roy Keane and Gary Neville discuss the turnaround in Manchester United’s form after their 3-1 win at home to Arsenal

Pulling off counter-attacking wins against fellow big-six sides was a hallmark of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd, and it appears it’s a tactic that will continue to serve his permanent successor well.
Joe Shread

Immaturity again costs Arsenal in clutch moment

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gives his verdict on his side’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United and discusses whether VAR should have disallowed Gabriel Martinelli’s goal

Gary Neville was impressed by Arsenal’s overall performance but put their defeat down, in part, to immaturity. The Sky Sports pundit also questioned Mikel Arteta’s triple substitution in the second half.

“The Arsenal players will no doubt be disappointed but when they look back on this game, they’ll see that they’ve done a lot of good things,” he said.

“They just lost it in the big moments of this match and maybe, just maybe, being a little too reckless too early, when they didn’t need to be with 20 minutes to go and those three subs – Fabio Vieira, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe – coming on.

“At 2-1, there was no need to go so desperate, so early, with 20 minutes to go. Man Utd looked more solid after bringing Fred and Casemiro on. I don’t think Arsenal needed to go so desperate. They dominated the game but it could have been 4-1, 5-1 at the end.

“They lost the shape. When [Oleksandr] Zinchenko went off, they had no left-back so it left them with just three defenders. They could have brought Kieran Tierney on.

“If you see Pep Guardiola chase a game of football, they do it in a methodical way. We used to chase games and go gung-ho with five minutes to go, not 20. With 20 minutes to go, you still play the extra pass.

“Arsenal did not handle that point in the game well. They deserved to lose the game because of it. If they had kept playing the way they were, they would have got back in that game because they were the better team. But they couldn’t handle it.

“The lack of maturity is the question. They showed that in that last 20 minutes. I liked watching them today, but against Tottenham in that game last season, they got played a little bit. There was naivety again today.”

Rodgers must toughen up flailing Foxes

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Leicester

When a team is conceding a hatful of goals it is easy to point the finger at the goalkeeper. To solely blame Leicester’s woeful defensive record this season at the gloves of Danny Ward would be harsh as Brendan Rodgers needs to take most of the flak – but it’s fair to remark that the Welsh goalkeeper is hardly helping matters.

Ward holds the unfortunate statistic of now conceding the same amount of goals this season (16) as saves he has made (16). He has yet to keep a clean sheet in his nine Premier League appearances either and looked a goalkeeper on the edge in the 5-2 defeat at Brighton – one playing with no confidence or authority in his output.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers says his players are lacking in confidence after a fifth defeat of the season at Brighton and dismisses any talk about his own future

But this horrendous defensive record goes back further than Ward’s introduction to the side after the departure of Kasper Schmeichel to Nice, and perhaps the decision from Rodgers to install Ward as the replacement is proving to be the wrong one anyway.

Rodgers’ side have now kept just one clean sheet in their last 29 Premier League away games. “I never lose any belief in what I do,” the Leicester boss said. But this continued art form of shipping goals and defending with no conviction surely is obvious to Rodgers. The buck stops with him in that regard and he can complain all he wants about not having “the right pieces of the jigsaw” but ultimately it is his responsibility to make Leicester much harder to play against than they have been for over 18 months now.

It’s probably time for a change of philosophy and, judging by the reaction of the fans at full-time, perhaps a change of manager too.
Lewis Jones

Adblock test

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.