Ole rues missed chances

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wheeling away in joy after putting his team 2-0 up from the penalty spot at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea vents his frustration.
Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wheeling away in joy after putting his team 2-0 up from the penalty spot at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea vents his frustration.PHOTO: REUTERS

United's interim boss happy with showing but not the result in setback at Arsenal

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described the 2-0 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday and the consequent failure to apply pressure in the race for the Premier League's top four as his "lowest" point since taking charge of Manchester United in December.

The caretaker manager also blamed his first defeat in 13 league matches on missed chances.

Romelu Lukaku and Fred hit the woodwork as United failed to score for the first time in 22 away games in all competitions this season, missing the chance to move level on points with Tottenham in third place in the league.

"The performance was good, but the result was disappointing... we lost and missed the chance to put pressure on Spurs," Solskjaer said. "It is one of those days you have to dust yourselves down from.

"We created miles more chances than we did when we won here in the FA Cup (a 3-1 fourth-round victory in January). Sometimes, you don't take them and we just didn't take them.

"We have won games we have not deserved to win, and today we lost a game we did not deserve to lose. Hopefully, we will be ready for Wolves in the FA Cup next week."

While Solskjaer admitted his players "did not have the zip" at the Emirates, ending a club record of nine straight away wins, he also attributed the loss to a soft spot kick decision, which was converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

"The referee (Jon Moss) will be disappointed when he sees it as I don't think it is a penalty," he said.

"I don't think there's enough contact there (on Alexandre Lacazette). It's not a dive, but apparently, Fred is very strong."

Although pundits blamed United goalkeeper David de Gea after he was caught wrong-footed for Granit Xhaka's long-range opener, Solskjaer exonerated him from fault as the Arsenal midfielder had struck the ball like a Brazilian.

Former United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports the Spain No. 1 had "made a big mistake" and "it was a determining factor", while former Leeds defender Danny Mills told BBC Radio Five Live it was "an incredibly poor error (as) it wasn't a particularly well-hit shot".

But Solskjaer dismissed Xhaka's strike as "one of those things", adding: "I don't class it as a mistake. We didn't put enough pressure on (him), it swerves and moves. It goes to David's left and changes direction completely."

The Norwegian's sombre mood was, however, in contrast to Unai Emery's players, who seized the opportunity to mock Jesse Lingard after the game.

The United forward, who did not play owing to injury, had incensed the Gunners with his moon-walk celebration after scoring in the FA Cup meeting and for tagging the Emirates as his "dance floor" on his Instagram account.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil referenced him in a post-match tweet which read: "Dance floor huh?! Superb performance! Brilliant result! Thank you Emirates Stadium! Proud to be a Gunner!"

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno also revealed the team were "motivated" to gain a measure of revenge over Lingard. The German said: "In your mind, you will never forget something like that.

"You don't want to see it again... we knew before the game about our chance because United had one more point than us.

"Now we have a two-point lead. We are in the top four and the other teams now wait for our mistakes."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Ole rues missed chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe