Former Liverpool defender and pundit Jamie Carragher has said he would still be “encouraged” by Arsenal‘s performance against Manchester United on Sunday despite defeat, claiming the Red Devils are aiming to play their style of football. It comes after a disappointing first loss of the season, but it wasn’t so much down to a poor performance.
The Gunners had showed up on the day but were unravelled in both boxes as they lacked a cutting edge at one end and were beaten by a clinical United team at the other. New signing Antony opened the scoring when he was free on the right with Bukayo Saka swiftly equalising after.
It was then a game defined by counter-attacks for the hosts, who quickly sprung two on the visitors for Marcus Rashford to score a killer blow with a brace. While it inflicted a first defeat in the league, Mikel Arteta‘s side remain top and will look to begin another winning run.
Discussing the loss after, the Spaniard told the media: “Very disappointed that we haven’t won the game because the game was there for the taking. We haven’t won it because we lacked discipline in certain moments to defend certain actions, and we weren’t ruthless enough in their box.”
While there may be some concern as to how the loss may impact the squad, Arteta also claimed it won’t linger with them, especially given the quick turnaround to face FC Zurich in their first Europa League fixture on Thursday night. The manner in which they lost was also something picked up on by Carragher, who discussed the positives for Arsenal.
Speaking on the Overlap debate, he said: “Arsenal are a better team than Manchester United right now. Arteta’s three years in, Ten Hag is just starting and he’s gone a little bit more pragmatic because he can’t play the way an Arsenal team does now.
“I think in two or three years’ time, the way Arsenal performed on Sunday that’s the way United will play, playing from the back all the time, playing through the lines. I admire what Ten Hag has done. So right now, I think Arsenal have the edge but squad-wise, that’ll be big problem, if they get injuries to certain players.”
He then added: “What I admire about ten Hag and what he’s done is he’s come up against Liverpool and Arsenal, two teams who have had managers – Klopp’s been there a long time, Arteta’s had a few years – their team is there, ten Hag’s team’s not there. He’s been there six games.
“That’s why I admire he’s almost taken a back foot because he knows right now he can’t take on Liverpool in an open game and even Arsenal. It was interesting what Christian Eriksen said after the game, he was asked what ten Hag wants him to do and he spoke about things that haven’t been happening that much in games.
“The actual idea of ten Hag I think is to get where Arsenal are in terms of his Manchester United team plays the Ajax way. Coming away from it, you can say they were naive and it was a mistake at the back, Saliba lost his footing to let Rashford to go through, I’d be coming away from that game as an Arsenal fan, I’d be really encouraged. That’s a game where ten Hag actually wants to take Man United in terms of how you play.”
It remains to be seen if Arsenal will be able to keep the upper hand over the Red Devils during the course of the season in the race for the top four, or potentially even more across all competitions. However, they are further in their journey under Arteta and will be hopeful that can help them kick on even further.