Snip­ing Mour­inho says United’s luck will change

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

HIS team had been sucker-punched by Arse­nal, but Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho could not re­sist one last dig at his op­po­site num­ber Arsene Wenger.

“Fi­nally, I lost against Arsene,” Mour­inho de­clared as he left the Old Traf­ford press con­fer­ence room fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw he said felt “like a de­feat”. “Fi­nally, I lost against Arse­nal.” Satur­day’s re­sult in fact ex­tended Mour­inho’s un­beaten run against Wenger’s Arse­nal to 12 league games, but that was of lit­tle con­so­la­tion af­ter a con­test United dom­i­nated.

Juan Mata gave them a de­served 69th-minute lead, but with a minute to go, sub­sti­tute Olivier Giroud headed in an equaliser with Arse­nal’s first ef­fort on tar­get.

It has be­come a re­cur­ring theme for United, who have drawn three con­sec­u­tive home games in the league for the first time since April 1992.

Mad­den­ingly, in those three games – a 0-0 stale­mate with Burn­ley and 1-1 draws against Stoke City and Arse­nal – they have had a to­tal of 74 at­tempts at goal to their op­po­nents’ 19.

United re­main sixth in the ta­ble, six points be­low fourth-place Arse­nal and eight points be­hind Jur­gen Klopp’s lead­ers Liver­pool.

Mour­inho, though, be­lieves it is only mis­for­tune that is keep­ing his team from the Cham­pi­ons League places.

“At this mo­ment, we all know in­ter­nally we are the un­lucky team in the Premier League,” said Mour­inho, who was miss­ing in­jured cen­tre­backs Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly and the sus­pended Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic.

“We just fo­cus on Burn­ley, Stoke and Arse­nal – nine points, eas­ily. If we have six points more, we are top four and close to the top of the league.

“We have a lot of work to do, we know that. We have lots of kids that are mis­take-prone. We also know we have some amaz­ing play­ers that turn 33, 34.

“We know that other teams are pre­pared with much dif­fer­ent con­di­tions.

“How long is Mr Wenger with this team? How long is Mauri­cio (Po­chet­tino) with Tot­ten­ham? How long is Klopp with his team?

“Chelsea and Liver­pool don’t play in Europe. They have one week to work, to rest, to pre­pare.

“If you re­mem­ber what Bren­dan Rodgers did with Liver­pool two sea­sons ago, also in a sea­son where Liver­pool didn’t have Europe, they’re in a priv­i­leged po­si­tion to im­prove their teams.

“The level and ex­pe­ri­ence of Man City. We are in a very dif­fi­cult Premier League. I know, the play­ers know, the board knows, the own­ers know. By the reaction of the Man United fans, they know.

“We are very con­fi­dent. We are very, very, very happy with our work and bet­ter re­sults will ar­rive, for sure.”

Mour­inho stopped short of nam­ing names, but the “mis­take-prone” com­ment was a ref­er­ence to Mar­cus Rashford, left for dead by Alex OxladeCham­ber­lain in the build-up to Arse­nal’s equaliser.

Wenger praised Arse­nal’s “never-give-up at­ti­tude”, but he could not ex­plain why it took them un­til the 89th minute to threaten David de Gea’s goal.

“Had we a men­tal block here be­cause for a while it didn’t go well for us?” Wenger said to re­porters.

“Was it fa­tigue or a men­tal switch-on prob­lem af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break? Some play­ers came back late on Thurs­day and we trav­elled on Fri­day morn­ing and played on Satur­day morn­ing.

“It’s short, but I don’t think it’s an ex­pla­na­tion. I felt that Man United de­fended very well as well.”

The game’s main point of con­tention ar­rived in the 35th minute, when An­to­nio Va­len­cia nut­megged Na­cho Mon­real and then went down as the Arse­nal left­back threw his arm across him.

Ref­eree Andre Mar­riner waved United’s ap­peals away and although he made his anger clear on the touch­line, Mour­inho re­fused to crit­i­cise the of­fi­cial af­ter the game.

“My view was it was not a penalty,” Wenger said. “You will not be sur­prised by that. Mour­inho’s view is that it was a penalty and you will not be sur­prised by that.” – AFP

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