Manchester United lost 1-3 to Arsenal in a Premier League match at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, September 3. It was United’s second defeat in four league matches this season so far and they are languishing in the bottom half with six points from four matches.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are fifth with 10 points from four matches. However, the win against United will give Mikel Arteta’s men much confidence and they look like the team that will give the stiffest competition to Manchester City along with Liverpool.
Erik ten Hag’s men, however, continued to struggle despite making a few new signings before the start of the season. Had they not been able to snatch victory form the jaws of defeat against Nottingham Forest, the situation would have been more difficult for them.
They face another tough opposition in the form of Brighton and Hove Albion next and that match is not going to be an easy one either.
Arsenal mood and Manchester United mood in an image: pic.twitter.com/8uYQFa1QDi
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 3, 2023
Manchester United are Struggling
Defensive woes continue for Manchester United
United have conceded seven goals in their last three matches, which is not a good defensive performance by any standard. Mason Mount and Christian Eriksen have repeatedly been found wanting as far as their defensive responsibilities are concerned.
Eriksen was the man closest to Martin Odegaard in the match against Arsenal when the former equalized with shot from outside the box—he should have been able to block that.
Sofyan Amrabat’s signing should improve the situation for them. However, if either of their regular centre-backs miss any match with injury, the onus will be on the likes of Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Johnny Evans to shield United’s goal. Maguire and Evans, in fact, played together for around 15 minutes against Arsenal and United conceded a couple of goals during that period.
All of that should keep ten Hag worried. The fact that Andre Onana conceded a goal through his near post off Declan Rice’s shot should further increase his concern—albeit there was a deflection. However, to their credit, both the full-backs, Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, defended really well for the most part and that was a silver lining for United
Attack is too left-heavy
United continue to rely to hit their opponents through counter-attacks with the help of Marcus Rashford’s darting runs through the inside-left channel. They scored their goal against the Gunners in that manner. However, they do not seem to have a Plan B, as far as their attack is concerned.
Antony was insipid for the first 20 minutes or so against Arsenal, as Gabriel Martinelli kept tormenting United through the left flank. However, more passes started flowing to Antony as the match progressed and as a result, Martinelli had to drop down to defend more often.
Antony is still not comfortable penetrating into the penalty box through the inside-right channel as Rashford is through the inside-left one. Moreover, Alejandro Garnacho, who is often used as a substitute, is also comfortable playing on the left flank, as is Jadon Sancho.
Hence, when either Garnacho or Sancho is introduced to the left flank, Rashford has to move to the right and his effectiveness is reduced. United also has problems at the centre of their attack, with Anthony Martial being quite ineffective as a No. 9.
Rasmus Hojlund made his United debut at the Emirates and impressed with his physicality and tenacity. However, he did not combine well enough with either of the wingers, which is imperative for his success as a centre-forward in Manchester United’s set-up.
In such a scenario, ten Hag has his task cut out and it remains to be seen how well his team rises up to the challenge.