Louis van Gaal has admitted that his Manchester United side must improve if they are to secure Champions League football.
United currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League after scraping a 2-1 win over Arsenal at The Emirates on Saturday evening thanks to an own goal from Kieran Gibbs and a late strike from Wayne Rooney before Arsenal’s last-ditch consolation.
But Van Gaal, who was without several key players for the game in the likes of Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, conceded that the Reds got lucky.
“I was not pleased with the way we had played in the first half so I don’t think it’s my best victory with United,” he told reporters.
“Of course, it’s an away game against a top team and we have won. But I have to say the first 25 minutes we gave the ball so easily away, it’s not possible for a top team.
“That’s what I said at half time: when we keep the ball, when we show confidence then we shall create many, many chances.”
Arsenal controlled the proceedings in the first half of Saturday’s game, with both sides knowing that a win would lift them into the top four.
Former United forward Danny Welbeck missed a number of chances before David De Gea pulled out a string of brilliant stops to deny the hosts.
But early in the second half United made the most of slack Gunners’ defending to take the lead after Antonio Valencia’s drilled cross cannoned in off the unfortunate Gibbs.
And despite increased Arsenal pressure, it was the visitors who extended their lead when Angel Di Maria played in Rooney with five minutes remaining.
The Reds’ and England skipper is now the record goal scorer against Arsene Wenger’s side, having bagged 13 in all competitions over the last 12 years.
Di Maria then squandered the chance for a third before Olivier Giroud fired in an injury-time consolation, and Van Gaal stressed that even ‘keeper De Gea has room for improvement.
“Fortunately we have a very good goalkeeper [David De Gea], and after the first 35 minutes you saw that we were coming back in the game and created a few possibilities,” the Dutchman said.
“His quality is on the goal-line but he has to improve also in other aspects of the game. When I say that you think that I’m crazy but I’m not crazy, believe me.”
Van Gaal has been handed a boost with the news that striker Radamel Falcao will soon be ready to return from an injury that has kept him out since the start of October.
However, it is his defensive ranks that have been depleted by injuries, with Luke Shaw joining the likes of Jones, Jonny Evans, Rafael and Rojo on the sidelines.
The 19-year-old full back hobbled off after just a quarter of an hour on Saturday, and Van Gaal bemoaned his inability to pick a consistent starting XI due to the growing Old Trafford injury list.
He said: “First I hope the players are coming back from injuries because it’s unbelievably difficult to create the consistency in the team because I have to change my line-up every week.
“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.”
Main image courtesy of BT Sport via YouTube, with thanks.