Manchester United suffered their fourth consecutive away league defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon – the first time that’s happened in 41 years.
United were trounced 3-1 by the Gunners thanks to goals from Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka – as well as a missed penalty from Bruno Fernandes. The only saving grace for United was Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike – his 100th in the Premier League.
The last time the Red Devils lost four consecutive league games on the road was during the 1980-81 campaign, when they failed to pick up a single away point between December 1980 and March 1981. They went on to finish a disappointing eighth that term.
Saturday’s result leaves United’s Champions League qualification hopes in tatters. They’re now sixth in the Premier League, six points behind Arsenal in fourth having played a game more. Tottenham are in fifth, three points behind the Gunners with a game in hand.
And, if West Ham win their game in hand against Chelsea on Sunday, United will slip into seventh – a Europa Conference League qualification spot. Eighth-place Wolves will also leapfrog the Red Devils if they win their two games in hand.
United’s most unwanted new record comes from their lack of silverware. Their failure to win a major trophy this term means they’ve gone five seasons without a trophy – the first time that’s happened in 39 years (between 1977 and 1983).
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“Pretty sure,” said United interim boss Ralf Rangnick – who will be succeeded by Erik ten Hag in the summer – when asked if the team’s hopes of finishing fourth are gone. “For me even before the game it was not very likely but after today’s result it is gone, yes.”
On what Ten Hag will be thinking, Rangnick said: “There is a lot of work, for sure. We knew that before the game. We showed what football we can play. Although we had to deal with the two early goals we still showed the attitude. There is nothing about the attitude of the players we should fault today.”
United have barely improved since Rangnick was appointed to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, failing to make any headway in the race for fourth. “Being brutally honest, Rangnick has come in and it has got worse,” Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport.
Ferdinand added: “Yeah, that is it for the top four. Manchester United have absolutely no chance, it’s done… they had an opportunity to get back in this game, they had chances, obviously the penalty. They were there for the taking Arsenal, but Manchester United did not smell blood and big moments like those they need to learn to take.”
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, United midfielder Scott McTominay said:”There’s a whole load of problems in terms of players, staff, anything within higher up, we need to just concentrate on what happens on the pitch.
“For us, when we get back in the dressing room, it’s go home, take a look at yourself in the mirror. You can’t go back to your house and be satisfied with conceding three goals at Arsenal whenever we deserve to win.”