Football

WALK ON, VAN GAAL

United boss pleased but sees more room for improvement

ON A ROLL: Louis van Gaal (above) leads Man United to fourth in the table.

After leading them to their first away win of the season at Arsenal and fourth in the table, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was still not pleased.

He believes there is plenty of room for improvement from his United side.

"I was not pleased with the way we played in the first half," van Gaal said, when asked if this was his best win as United boss to date.

"I don't think so. But it was an away game against a top team and we have won. Okay, then I can say yes. It's also the right moment to win this game.

"I have to say the first 35 minutes, we gave the ball away so easily that it's not possible for a top team. Because of that, Arsenal created a lot of chances.

"Fortunately, we have a very good goalkeeper and, after the first 35 minutes, you saw that we were getting back into the game and created a few possibilities."

BIG CHANCES

"I told them at half-time that when we keep the ball, when we show confidence, then we shall create many chances.

"We created at least three big chances. (Angel) di Maria could have finished the game too. And, on two occasions, it was an easy pass to give to di Maria and Wayne Rooney, but the pass was not right.

"That was not a difficult pass in my opinion, so we have to improve on that.

Though he may not have been pleased, he said: "I am very happy, of course."

Luke Shaw was forced off after just 16 minutes as van Gaal saw yet another player added to his ever-lengthening injury list, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was pleased with the efforts of his inexperienced defence as Chris Smalling, Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair grew stronger as the game progressed.

"I hope our players will soon return from injuries because it's unbelievably difficult to create the consistency in the team as I have to change my line-up every week," he said.

"Maybe you don't know, but I am a coach who always has the same line-up, maybe I change one or two. But not constantly so many players.

"I have also changed the formation. It is not always good to create optimism in the team.

GOOD COMMUNICATION

"Shaw has to play. He is back from the international break with the English national team and he is not fit enough. We make him fit.

"Then he is injured with yet another injury. His ankle, you saw that. I have to give (Ashley) Young a game, but he is not fit enough to play 90 minutes.

"I think the players have done fantastic. Blackett, McNair and Shaw - how old are they? You play against a top team like Arsenal and they are always changing positions, so you need a lot of communication. I think that was pretty good."

Arsenal have endured their worst start to a campaign in 32 years and, as United entered the Champions League positions, Arsene Wenger saw his side slip to eighth and the Frenchman was left frustrated after seeing his side start the match so well.

"It's a game that we dominated for 80 per cent of the time and we haven't dominated a game like that against Manchester United for a long time," he said.

"At the end of the day, we were not efficient enough in the final third and we made a mistake at the back which they took advantage of. That's the history of the game. We had plenty of chances. Their goalkeeper is Man of the Match. That tells you the story of the game.

"Once we were 1-0 down, we had possession in the final third that they had to defend. We missed a few opportunities in the second half, even in the final 20 minutes. At the moment, defensively we are a bit naive."

Wenger confirmed an injury to Wojciech Szczesny which forced the goalkeeper off after Kieran Gibbs' own goal, but claims it is not serious.

However, Jack Wilshere could be out for some time after being replaced following a heavy challenge from McNair. - PA Sport.