Jose Mourinho..

Chris Smalling on the Jose Mourinho tactics that did the damage v Arsenal

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You get the feeling Jose Mourinho knew exactly what he was doing when Manchester United left the Emirates Stadium with three points and just 25% possession.

Despite Arsenal completely dominating the match and forcing David de Gea into a number of world-class saves, United were ominously clinical on the counterattack and abused any individual error that presented itself.

Laurent Koscielny's early wayward pass swiftly ended in a goal for Antonio Valencia and Skhodran Mustafi's lazy defending allowed Jesse Lingard to double the lead.

From then on in, the Red Devils would burst from one to the end to another in mere seconds whenever an Arsenal attack broke down and in the 63rd minute it was effective enough to kill off the game.

Even a late red card for Paul Pogba didn't compromise a mature performance that cut a resemblance to the plucky Mourinho showings of his Inter Milan and Chelsea tenures.

And while fans will never truly know the exact methods behind the Special One's masterclass, Chris Smalling did his best to provide an insight.

The 28-year-old played every minute of the end-to-end clash and helped United survive trying periods of pressure.

Speaking to MUTV, he explained: "I think we were carrying on from Watford and the fact that, when we play, obviously in this system, we can play with two strikers.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League

"Quite often, they [Arsenal] are only used to playing against one. We put two up front and put them under more pressure and they are not used to that.

"I think that was one to enjoy, for fans watching the game and for us as players. It was end to end, but for us to get those two early goals, I think, meant Arsenal had to come at us and that's what made it a very entertaining game."

Smalling then alluded to the brilliant way United handled playing with 10-men and when asked for the cause, he added: "I think that's down to our tactical work and us being able to be strong.

"They probably had about four strikers on the pitch so it was a case of digging in and making sure, even the attacking players, were doing their job and everyone to a man was brilliant.

"I think Watford were going into our game on Tuesday on a great run of form and Arsenal, I don't think they've lost at home like we haven't, so I don't think we could have asked for anything more. It's been a great week."


United have found some timely form ahead of the mother of all Manchester derbies in December, that's for sure.

Mourinho will need some similarly impressive tactics to nullify Pep Guardiola and co. but you wouldn't put it past him. Watch this space.

Do you think Manchester United will win the Premier League this season? Have your say in the comments section below.

Antonio Valencia
Chris Smalling

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