MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho had mixed emotions after Manchester United coughed up two points late on in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday.
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Mourinho was upset that his side dropped two points as Olivier Giroud‘s 89th minute header grabbed Arsenal a draw, but he was also pleased with the dominant performance of his side who had led thanks to Juan Mata‘s superb finish after a well-worked move into the box.
He still hasn’t lost to Arsene Wenger in 12 Premier League games (even though he said to the media as he walked out that “finally, finally I have lost to Arsene. That’s how I feel”) but there was a sense of missed opportunity for the Portuguese coach.
Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho called his team the “unluckiest in the Premier League” as they remain six points behind Arsenal despite a dominant display.
“Of course it is two points dropped. We were the best team by far,” Mourinho said. “They had no chances to win. They could not be Arsenal the way they normally play football. We were phenomenal defensively. The way we pressed and the way we controlled their counter attacks. Then when we had the ball we were very comfortable. We scored a fantastic goal, we had chances to win the game and then the only time they go there and the only time we had a situation we could not resolve they scored
“They are the lucky ones and we are the unlucky ones. The team played very well. This team at the moment is the unluckiest team in the Premier League. That is the reality. The team is playing well.”
United looked much more solid throughout this game with Michael Carrick sitting in expertly in midfield with Mata, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba buzzing around in front of him. Up to Marcus Rashford worked hard but had few chances and Anthony Martial was out of sorts out on the left. When Wayne Rooney came on with 30 minutes to go United cranked through the gears and Mata scored a fine goal.
The Red Devils then sat back and when young Rashford failed to track Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all the way back, the Arsenal substitute whipped in a delicious ball which Giroud nodded home with second-string center backs Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo nowhere to be seen. Arsenal had two chances the entire game and took one of them.
United only took one of theirs despite dominating and they had a penalty shout waved away by referee Andre Marriner in the first half after Antonio Valencia went down in the box under a challenge from Nacho Monreal.
It is easy to see why United and Mourinho feel unlucky and hard done by.
Still, asked by ProSoccerTalk to explain the result, Mourinho focused on the positives.
“I don’t. I can only explain the work my team did. Amazing control of a team that is very good. A team that normally produces very good attacking football and was completely controlled,” Mourinho told ProSoccerTalk. “We didn’t see their amazing players so completely under control. When we lost the ball, our reaction to that was amazingly good, so aggressive, so intense we didn’t give them chances to build from the back. When we had the play, we play good football. We produce good chances. We should score before the 1-0, we should score after the 1-0 and we should win the game comfortably.
“I feel very disappointed for the players and for the fans but I think we have amazing fans, the way they react after this defeat was amazing. They can control their disappointment to praise the players and the performance. We are unlucky with the result but we are lucky with the fans. Arsenal is the game today and a big team but we dominate so easily it is very frustrating. I have nothing to say against my players. I feel sorry for them. We feel like it was a defeat and Arsenal is feeling like a victory.”
United is now six points off the top four and could fall as many as 10 points behind Liverpool depending on their result later in the day at Southampton.
Regardless of the result, Mourinho was happy with the performance and pointed towards their Premier League rivals being at very different stages in their evolution as a team than United.
“We know that other teams are prepared with much different conditions. How long is Mr Wenger with this team? How long is Mauricio with Tottenham? How long is Klopp with Liverpool? Chelsea and Liverpool are not in Europe. They have one week to rest, to prepare. If you remember what Brendan Rodgers did with Liverpool, they are in a much better position to improve these teams. The level of Man City. We are in a very different Premier League. The players know, the owners know, the board knows, by the reaction of the fans, they know. We are very happy with our work.”