Jose Mourinho pleased with his Manchester United side after Arsenal victory

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was pleased with his side after their 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday evening. United played their 15th league match of the season, a season where the clubs improvement is visible after amassing 35 points, scoring 35 goals, winning 11 matches, drawing twice and losing twice. United currently sit in second-place in the league, five points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand – against West Ham United at the Etihad this afternoon.

The Portuguese manager said his side were ‘phenomenal,’ ‘amazing,’ and ‘fantastic’ after his side put in a great away performance against Arsene Wenger’s side. Antonio Valencia, latching on to Paul Pogba’s pass, opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the match and Jesse Lingard, assisted by Anthony Martial, doubled United’s lead in the 11th minute of the match. It was 2-0 at the break with Alexandre Lacazette. assisted by Aaron Ramsey, getting a goal back for the hosts, but in the 63rd minute, Lingard, assisted by Pogba, scored another for United, restoring the two-goal cushion.

Paul Pogba was sent off for a challenge on Hector Bellerin in the 74th minute of the match. Some journalists have called it a stamp, but the intent of the player is questionable. Still, United will be without Pogba for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Sunday, and possibly for the visit of Bournemouth and the trip to West Bromwich Albion. If Pogba gets a three-match suspension, he will be eligible to face Bristol City in the Carabao Cup on the 20th December. David De Gea showed his stuff in the match too, making 14 saves and two catches during the match – best in the world.

Mourinho started off by praising his side for their performance against Arsenal. He spoke about the attacking play from Arsenal, where United weathered the storm with plenty of clearances from United’s defence and saves from De Gea. Mourinho, reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“I thought it was a phenomenal game. I loved the way my team played and fought. But I also have to say that Arsenal played, in some periods, amazing attacking football, creating difficulties for us. But I have to say that my players deserve all the great words. I don’t know so many more in English! But amazing, phenomenal, fantastic, and deserved the three points.”

The manager was then asked about United’s plan against Arsenal. He stated that when Arsenal had the ball, United needed to defend, then when they had the ball, counter-attacking football, at a fast pace was what his side did. Mourinho said:

“The plan was when they [Arsenal] had the ball, we all had to defend, starting with the attacking players, and when we have the ball, we had to try to counter-attack fast and try to score goals, which we did. We had the ball against the post, we had this last situation with [Romelu] Lukaku facing Petr Cech and, of course, they [Arsenal] can say they had chances but we fought and we had a great goalkeeper too and I think we deserve [the win].”

Mourinho also confirmed that he was pleased with his side’s tactical awareness in the match, stating that his players had the intelligence to play tactically, then after the sending off, the tactics had to change again. The Portuguese manager said:

“They [the players] had the intelligence to play tactically according to the moments of the game because the game, we started in a way and then, when [Shkodran] Mustafi comes off, they changed and we changed and then later, playing with 10 men, we had to change again so I think it was hard for the players from the mental and tactical point of the view.”

Mourinho was asked about Pogba’s red card, to which he said:

“I don’t know. I’ll leave that one for you [the media]. I’ll leave for you the Lukaku situation with [Laurent] Koscielny and I’ll leave for you the Arsenal players on the grass but I’ll probably be the same because the grass is absolutely beautiful. I think there is a desire to go for the grass!”

The manager then spoke about Nemanja Matic, who had to come off early against Watford, being an injury doubt for the Arsenal match, recovering in time and starting the match. Arsene Wenger conducted a similar approach with Alexandre Lacazette, although he was ruled out of the match entirely, starting, which was of no surprise. Mourinho, speaking about Matic, said:

“He did great work that he did in the last couple of days. Fantastic dedication from the members of the medical staff that were working with him and we managed to go from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes’. He was a doubt, he managed to play 90 minutes but I think the best words must go to Arsenal’s medical department because [Alexandre] Lacazette went from a ‘no’ to a ’90 minutes’ and that’s great.”

Mourinho ended his praise with the statement that United were comfortable playing with ten men, having done what they needed to do much earlier in the match, scoring two goals in the opening 11 minutes of the match, then responding to Lacazette’s goal with Lingard completing his brace. The manager concluded by saying:

“The players grew up, they understood the game better and the players understood that with one game less, it’s not about focus on pressing the man, it’s more about the zone and to create a compact block and then, yes, press the ball in these areas, so I think the team felt very comfortable and we still managed to have a situation that, maybe you can speak better than me, the situation with Lukaku with Koscielny.”

United will need to continue this form deep into the month of December. Next up for United is the final UEFA Champions League group stage match with CSKA Moscow heading to Old Trafford, of which United will need a point to earn qualification to the knockout stages of the competition, a win would seal the group with United the winners, a draw would do the same, a defeat would see United fall into second-place if Basel beat Benfica by four goals or more. United would have to avoid a high-scoring defeat at the hands of the Russian side to remain in the competition.

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