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Jose Mourinho: Manchester United missed Marouane Fellaini against Arsenal

by Tanveer Arayan

Jose Mourinho has admitted Manchester United missed Marouane Fellaini‘s aerial presence during the closing stages of his side’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday afternoon.

The home side dominated proceedings from the first whistle and deservedly went ahead after 68 minutes through Juan Mata‘s smart strike.

However, a late Olivier Giroud header – Arsenal’s first and only shot on target – gave the visitors an extremely lucky point.

Mourinho, speaking after the game, claimed that Fellaini’s presence (the midfielder is currently recovering from a calf strain) could have stopped Giroud from snatching an equaliser.

“We don’t have very strong people in the air to cope with the cross and I did not have on the bench a physical player to play like I would,” he said. 

“If I had Fellaini I would have played Fellaini for the last 10 or 15 minutes in that area.

“But it’s an isolated action in a game where everything was under control and and in the period where everything was under control because sometimes in the last five minutes you feel the normal pressure of an opponent, that was not the case. That was not the case at all.”

Two years ago, United found themselves in a similar situation: leading Arsenal by one goal, Wenger’s side pressing, sending crosses in Giroud’s direction in desperate search of an equaliser.

The crucial difference, however, is that Fellaini was on the pitch. Every cross sent Giroud’s way found the Belgian’s fuzzy mop, and United came away with a miraculous 2-1 win. This time around the Frenchman had Phil Jones – who, for reasons that will forever be unknown, decided to fall over at the exact moment Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross sailed into the box – to contend with, and he duly nodded home.

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