Home » Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 loss against Arsenal

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 loss against Arsenal

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United travelled to London to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, fresh off a 3-2 comeback win against Nottingham Forest a week ago.

Ahead of the international break, Erik ten Hag would have undoubtedly be keen to register another victory against the Gunners.

The United boss started Andre Onana in goal. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and Diogo Dalot formed the defensive quartet.

Casemiro played in his natural deep-lying defensive midfield position, with Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandez alongside him in the middle of the park.

Anthony Martial led the line with Marcus Rashford and Antony flanking him on either side.

Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat against Arsenal.

United excellent when playing out from the back

An aspect of United’s game that was extremely noticeable was just how good the team was when playing out from the back.

In the face of opposition who are known for pressing high and aggressively, United were calm in possession, especially during their initial buildup.

Onana usually initiated play and combined well with Lindelof and Martinez who were equally impressive in the way they received the ball before passing it to someone else.

Wan-Bissaka and Dalot stayed wide to provide good passing options.

On more than one occasion, Eriksen came deep to get involved and to get the ball from Onana before distributing it to either Wan-Bissaka or Lindelof.

Last season, Ten Hag was accused of abandoning his principles of playing out from the back to accommodate David de Gea, who could only be trusted to go long.

Already, there have been significant improvements and this is massively helping the team as a result. The result of their amazing buildup was that United were able to keep possession and mount meaningful spells of pressure.

Plenty of work still needs to be done in refining the second phase and third phase play into the midfield and attack respectively before it all finally comes together.

However, fans will have been left encouraged by what they saw mostly from their goalkeeper, defensive players and Eriksen.

Lindelof a capable replacement for Raphael Varane

Against their North London rivals, Lindelof showed he has what it takes to sufficiently cover for Varane.

There was plenty of worry and concern after the confirmation that the Frenchman would be sidelined for a number of weeks but Lindelof proved he can deputise for the World Cup winner.

Lindelof performed well and on top of his good distribution and helping out in playing from the back, the Swede was strong in executing his defensive actions.

He was crucial in shoring up the backline and slotted in perfectly next to Martinez before the Argentine had to go off due to an injury.

Lindelof produced some very crucial blocks and tackles that were pivotal to his side. Up until he was substituted, he gave a good account of himself and his value to the team. Some control was lost when he was taken off.

It’s clear why Ten Hag did not sanction the 29-year-old’s sale this summer. He’s an important member of the squad and when required, can be relied upon to come up with the goods.

Rasmus Hojlund should be instantly installed as United’s main striker

Heading into the game, there was a lot of curiosity as to whether Hojlund would start.

Ten Hag deemed him only fit enough for a place on the bench and instead decided that Martial would play upfront.

Martial was uninspiring and could not bring himself to have an impact on the game.

His average display was made even more glaring by Hojlund when the Dane came on in the second period of the game.

Hojlund demonstrated amazing bursts of pace that Martial seems to have lost over the years.

Beyond that, the former Atalanta man was adept at holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into play.

He sought to be a constant threat to the Arsenal defence and for the short time he was on, gave the opposition more to think about than Martial did.

Going forward, it’s important that Hojlund is made United’s starting striker and Martial his immediate backup.

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