Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has dismissed talk of his team’s defensive frailties.
Concerns arose after United’s struggles to keep out Arsenal in the 3-2 defeat at the Emirates.
For large sections of the second half the Red Devils were pinned back by Arsenal and were seen camping inside their own box.
The team’s resolve was however broken in the dying minutes after Eddie Nketiah’s flicked shot beat David de Gea from close range.
According to Opta, the Gunners registered 63 touches inside the United box – a season-high.
United also conceded a high expected-goals (xG) figure of 3.1, only second to the 6-3 defeat at the hands of Manchester City earlier in the season.
Looking ahead to the Carabao cup semi-final clash against Nottingham Forest tomorrow, Ten Hag was quick to rubbish indications that his team is defensively weak.
The Dutchman took a more measured and holistic point-of-view and reflected on his players’ defensively solid record before the Arsenal defeat.
Ten Hag said, “No, I think in a lot of games we defended very well, we had a lot of clean sheets. Against Man City [in the 2-1 win at Old Trafford], we defended very well. I think, in general, also against Arsenal, we defended well.”
“I don’t think they [Arsenal] had many clean shots, I think the one time [they did] was from a free-kick. But the rest were shots from distance when we had a lot of defenders in between the ball and the goal.”
“That’s what I meant when I said all the goals were avoidable and it can’t happen. That was my point, when you concede three goals in a top game, it is very hard to win the game.”
The United boss added that both players and coaching staff had learned from the mistakes made at the Emirates.
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