Man United’s ten-game unbeaten run came to an end against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester United missed out on the opportunity to climb back up to third in the Premier League table after being beaten 3-2 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Eddie Nketiah netted a last-gasp winner to seal all three points for the Gunners, moving them five points clear at the top of the Premier League table. They also now have an 11-point advantage over United, whose already faint title hopes are now as good as over.
United have conceded two late goals in each of their last two games, meaning they have dropped three points that would have seen them end the latest round of Premier League fixtures third in the standings, just three points behind rivals Manchester City. They were minutes away from beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park last Wednesday evening, only for Michael Olise to net a stunning free-kick in injury time.
Although the Reds have suffered late agony in each of their last two outings, they do remain in pole position to achieve their primary objective this season and finish inside the top-four. After what happened against the likes of Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford at the start of the season, any United supporter would have snapped your hand off to be sat in fourth place just past the midway point in the campaign.
United, despite their recent lapses, have won nine of their last 11 games and have lost just two of their last 21 outings in all competitions, highlighting that they have made significant progress in a relatively short space of time under Erik ten Hag this season. They are currently in the Champions League places, have reached the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, are still in the FA Cup, still in the Europa League and have beaten the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur this season.
They are also the only side to have beaten Arsenal in the Premier League this season, too, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford back in September. Although Sunday’s reverse fixture did not go the Reds’ way, they pushed the Gunners every step of the way and were minutes away from earning a respectable draw.
Had they not conceded so late on, everyone would have been lauding a terrific result and highlighting the progress made by the club this season. One swing of the boot, as disappointing as it was, should not mask that progression.
Although their performance at the Emirates, certainly in the second half, lacked energy and a creative spark, you could not question the effort of United’s players, who gave the league leaders a run for their money. And it was the attitude and application of the players that earned recognition from former Reds captain Gary Neville post-match.
“Speaking as a Manchester United fan… I don’t feel [deflated and disheartened] tonight,” Neville told Sky Sports. “I think I’ve seen those lads give their all. I know fans will go home really disappointed because of a late goal – twice in London in a week.
But honestly, there is something happening out there in terms of commitment, spirit and quality. I wish they had better quality up front in the final third, you’d expect Manchester United would have better options from the bench, but they haven’t at this moment in time.
“I think United did pretty well in that game but Arsenal were just too good for them in the end and they can’t have any complaints.”
And Neville’s comments, in many ways, are showing that Ten Hag’s plan to make United great again is coming to fruition. Speaking in his first interview as United manager, the Dutchman outlined his plans to restore pride and build a team who would fight for one another.
“I really look forward to doing this job, at this club with massive history, and we want to restore it where it belongs,” said Ten Hag, speaking last May. “I think many [reasons it’s exciting]. First of all, we want to make the fans proud.
“Second, of course we are in this moment, the current situation is obviously not that good. It’s a big challenge. I want to build and construct a team who are battling for each other, who are unified and who will get results.
The result United wanted may have been missing at Arsenal, but the collective spirit that has been created by Ten Hag certainly wasn’t. They left everything on the pitch and were by no means disgraced.