Manchester United hit rock bottom and Arsenal’s wing wizards delight – Champions League hits and misses

Plus: Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka shine on the wings in Arsenal’s 2-0 home win over Sevilla, a victory that really underlined the Gunners’ current strength in depth

Fragile United plumb new depths

Image: Harry Maguire shows his despair as United lose 4-3 in Copenhagen

We are in November and Manchester United have lost more than 50 per cent of their matches this season. The last time they experienced that many defeats in their first 17 games of a season was in 1973/74 – the last time they were relegated.

No one is suggesting United will repeat that nightmare – not yet, anyway – but their current form is staggeringly bad.

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Following Manchester United’s 4-3 loss at Copenhagen, The Telegraph’s Sam Wallace and The Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Samarrai debate whether Erik ten Hag’s job is under pressure at Old Trafford.

  • FC Copenhagen 4-3 Man Utd – Report and ratings
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

They have conceded 30 goals in just 17 games across all competitions. Their last four matches alone have seen them ship 10 goals, while only Celtic and Antwerp have conceded more than them in the Champions League this season.

It’s hard to criticise Erik ten Hag for Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire’s first-half indiscretions as both carried more than a hint of misfortune, even if the decisions were correct.

But the manager has to bear responsibility for the way his side reacted. Every time Copenhagen – a side that had failed to score in eight of their last 10 matches against English sides – applied any pressure, United’s defence disintegrated.

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Tom Cleverley gives his reaction after 10-man Manchester United lost 4-3 at Copenhagen, leaving them bottom of their Champions League group.

The sheer amount of goals United have conceded shows that propensity to collapse is a common theme. Equally damning is the fact that, after losing two out of two away from home in the Champions League as United boss, Ten Hag has now lost more matches on the road in the competition than he did across 16 games with Ajax.

At this rate, United and Ten Hag may not even end up in the Europa League.
Joe Shread

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Mark Ogden was highly critical of Manchester United following their 4-3 defeat at the hands of Copenhagen in the Champions League.

Arsenal’s wing wizards give Sevilla’s young defenders a lesson

“They gained experience,” Diego Alonso, the Sevilla manager told Sky Sports about his young full-backs Juanlu and Kike Salas. It was an optimistic take on a match which had seen Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka give their markers the run around.

At 20 and 21, respectively, Juanlu and Salas will improve and they won’t be the last to find Arsenal’s wonderful wingers a handful. But on Wednesday night Martinelli and Saka looked like they were playing on another planet.

Image: Bukayo Saka scores Arsenal's second goal against Sevilla

Martinelli’s numbers were staggering. He recorded 17 dribbles. The next most was by Saka with seven. The Brazilian sent in 12 crosses. The next most was by Saka with two. Juanlu seemed get beaten by every Arsenal drive down that left side, with Martinelli too hot to handle.

It was his speed on the turn and pace on the break through the middle of the pitch which led to Saka scoring Arsenal’s second. The Arsenal talisman had already teed up the first for Leandro Trossard after Jorginho picked out his run in behind. They were unplayable.

Saka – fouled four times inside the first 20 minutes – eventually limped off after injuring an ankle from an aerial challenge but Mikel Areta was positive he would be fit for the Premier League game with Burnley. “It’s difficult to defend against them,” he said with a smile when asked about his wide men. Don’t Sevilla know it.
Peter Smith

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Sky Sports’ Nick Wright provides reaction to Arsenal’s comfortable 2-0 victory over Sevilla as they edged closer to qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages.

Arsenal’s foundations are strong

The scoreline was perhaps not as emphatic as it might have been given Arsenal’s dominance but this was another performance to show their strong defensive foundations .

Sevilla could barely even get close to David Raya’s goal, failing to muster a single shot until the final minute of stoppage time, and on the only other occasion they threatened, William Saliba was on hand to sprint back and make a recovery tackle.

Image: Gabriel Martinelli was on eye-catching form against Sevilla

The Frenchman has been imperious all season and this was just the latest example of the side’s collective improvement defensively. Sevilla carried little threat but that was in large part down to the way in which Mikel Arteta’s side stifled them.

Arsenal have only conceded 12 goals across their 15 Premier League and Champions League games and the underlying data is similarly encouraging. In fact, Arsenal have the second-lowest tallies for expected goals against in both competitions, behind only Manchester City.

Their defensive strength gives them a platform to build on.
Nick Wright


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