Paul Merson believes Arsenal were missing a player like Christian Eriksen during their 3-1 defeat to at Old Trafford.
The Gunners suffered their first loss of the new season as and a double from sealed the win for Erik ten Hag’s side.
Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s performance after the match, claiming that the game was ‘there for the taking’.
Merson was also buoyed by Arsenal’s display at Old Trafford but feels Arteta’s midfield needed a player with Eriksen’s vision and passing range to unpick United’s defence.
‘The first 15 minutes of the second half they [United] got ripped to shreds. Arsenal should have gone on and won it. It was so one-sided, the football match.
‘He was the difference, Eriksen. I thought he got run ragged by [Martin] Odegaard at times, I thought Odegaard was getting him, turning him and squaring him up, he was running the show.
‘But the thing with Eriksen that Arsenal haven’t got is that ball through the lines.
‘He did it in the first half with Fernandes for the first goal, and it did it for Fernandes again [for United’s second goal].
‘Arsenal haven’t got that. They’ve got [Bukayo] Saka and [Sambi] Lokonga, they’re not going to put the ball through the lines, that was the difference, for me, between the two sides, that was it, it was his [Eriksen’s] passing.
‘It’s the same old story, you come away from here and we’re like, ‘we’ve done well’.’
Merson also criticised Arteta for making three substations with 17 minutes remaining as Arsenal attempted to score an equaliser. However, Rashford then netted his second of the game just a minute later to seal United’s win.
‘Three substitutions straight away, Man United went solid and brought Fred on so they were always going to give you the ball, so you want your better players still on the pitch,’ said Merson.
‘They lost their shape, it was like [from Arteta], ‘go on, you go on and everyone just play’.
‘Ramsdale hadn’t made a save, it wasn’t like he was man of the match.
‘So just keep it tight at the back and they will get a chance in the game. They’ll cause havoc, you know what it’s like in the last 15 minutes, people would’ve got nervous here, [United] players would’ve got nervous.
‘For me, it was a knee-jerk reaction too quickly with 20 minutes to go.’
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