UNITED SHOW LIFESIGNS

Cape Argus - - CLASSIFIEDS -

AL­THOUGH Manch­ester United’s win­less Premier League run ex­tended to four games with a 2-2 draw against Arse­nal on Wed­nes­day, there were at least signs of life at Old Traf­ford to ap­pease their dis­grun­tled fans.

Some alarm­ing stats ahead of United’s trip to Southamp­ton on Satur­day high­lighted how laboured Jose Mour­inho’s side have been this sea­son, rank­ing 18th in the league in sprints made dur­ing games.

But against Arse­nal, al­though qual­ity was still lack­ing, United at least showed in­ten­sity and ac­tu­ally made 24 more sprints than Unai Emery’s side.

For the first 20 min­utes, Arse­nal strug­gled to find any form of rhythm with United press­ing high.

Then, as has hap­pened in four of their last five league games, United con­ceded first to make their task all the more dif­fi­cult.

How­ever, be­fore the Old Traf­ford crowd could get too frus­trated United had lev­elled through An­thony Mar­tial, rein­vig­o­rat­ing the hosts.

“There is no space for play­ers who don’t give it all,” Mour­inho said in his pro­gramme notes, per­haps aimed at France mid­fielder Paul Pogba, who was on the bench for the sec­ond time in three matches.

Mour­inho’s play­ers seemed to re­spond, im­me­di­ately equal­is­ing again after Arse­nal had scored a for­tu­nate sec­ond, Jesse Lin­gard restor­ing par­ity 13 sec­onds after the restart fol­low­ing Alexan­dre La­cazette’s goal.

“I am very happy (with the de­sire),” Mour­inho said. “Maybe we feel frus­trated with the re­sult, with some mis­takes, some mo­ments were a bit more qual­ity was needed. But we have to be happy with the spirit.”

That may be where the rea­sons for op­ti­mism end.

Eigh­teen points be­hind lead­ers Manch­ester City, United are four points closer to bot­tom than top, and, after 15 league games, they have a nega­tive goal dif­fer­ence.

After 15 games in Louis van Gaal’s last sea­son at United – a man­ager much de­rided for the nega­tive foot­ball played dur­ing his ten­ure – United were six points bet­ter off, with a goal dif­fer­ence of plus 10.

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