Erik ten Hag was pleased with Manchester United’s performance both in and out of possession as they kicked off their US pre-season tour with a win over title contenders Arsenal.
After beating Leeds in Oslo and Lyon in Edinburgh, the Red Devils kicked off the main stages of their 2023-24 season build-up on Saturday at the packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Newly appointed captain Bruno Fernandes defeated Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale all too easily before Jadon Sancho struck from a Gabriel error in a 2-0 win that ended by half-time.
“I think it’s very good,” said United boss Ten Hag. “I really liked the way we played, how active we were with and without possession.
“It’s the way we want to play and it’s the only time of the year you can really work in training and translate it into games with no consequences.
“Nevertheless, we want to win and I think the lads showed that we played well.
“Of course these are all great games. We have to go on and that helps us progress and these opponents in particular are good.
“Arsenal are really good opponents. They played incredibly well in the Premier League last season so it’s good to keep up with them, then you’ll be better.”
The biggest downside was the second-half injury to Amad Diallo, who left MetLife Stadium on crutches and had his left foot strapped.
Ten Hag hopes the youngster has avoided any serious injury on a night when midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, 18, put in a promising performance.
“It’s fantastic,” the Dutchman told MUTV. “Manchester United have a reputation for always producing young players and it can be done. But we have to see.
“We have confidence, he plays with confidence and I really like his performance. But this year he showed it in the spring, then he got injured. We are really happy.
“Meanwhile we have more young players and they are all doing very well. But I don’t want to set expectations too high.
“We have to see. The Premier League is tough but you can definitely see we have some really good young players who can play a part in the squad. But the bar is set high.”
United travel on to San Diego where the reserves take on Wrexham before the first team meet Real Madrid in Houston and Borussia Dortmund in Las Vegas.
Arsenal defeated the MLS All-Stars 5-0 in Washington DC on Wednesday night and travel to Los Angeles to face Barcelona in a bid to recover from the United defeat.
Barca were forced to cancel Saturday’s friendly against Juventus as ‘a significant part of the Blaugrana squad suffers from viral gastroenteritis’.
An Arsenal spokesman said they are in close contact with the LaLiga champions and are fully confident that the game against him will go ahead as scheduled on July 26.
Mikel Arteta hopes for a reaction from his side and says after the defeat against United: “Yes (that’s a good lesson for us).”
“You asked me yesterday for my thoughts on how difficult or easy the season will be.
“It’s getting more demanding and more difficult, the level and preparation of the team is excellent and we knew today that they had already played two games before this one and we knew that the test would be very demanding, like on Wednesday against one of the best teams in the world.”
“I don’t like losing and I don’t like the feeling I’m feeling right now.
“So the guys have to train now and in that area think about how we can be better to win the next game.”