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Ralf Rangnick's warning for Erik ten Hag as Manchester United lose at Arsenal

With Erik ten Hag’s arrival in the summer announced earlier in the week, the Red Devils followed a sorry loss at Anfield with a 3-1 reverse against a recently rejuvenated Gunners team.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match at Emirates Stadium. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kevin Palmer

Ralf Rangnick ripped into his Manchester United flops as their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League evaporated with at Emirates Stadium yesterday.

With Erik ten Hag’s arrival in the summer announced earlier in the week, the Red Devils followed a sorry loss at Anfield with a 3-1 reverse against a recently rejuvenated Gunners team.

An enthralling game saw both sides make plenty of mistakes at the back but a first Arsenal goal for Nuno Tavares, a Bukayo Saka penalty and a Granit Xhaka screamer proved more than enough for the hosts, who had looked shaky after Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100th Premier League goal had the visitors back in the game.

Bruno Fernandes missed a penalty and Diogo Dalot twice hit the woodwork as United failed to make their period of superiority pay on an afternoon where Rangnick dropped United captain Harry Maguire.

The interim United boss admitted he didn’t believe his side could finish in the top four of the Premier League prior to their must-win clash against Arsenal, but now he believes all hope of Champions League qualification has gone.

“Top four is gone, but there are bigger issues than that here,” said a deflated Rangnick, after a week when he has not tried to hide the reality that the challenge facing incoming United manager Ten Hag is huge.

“There is a lot of work to be done here, for sure. There is nothing about the attitude of the players we should fault today as the performance was better, but we have to defend better than we did.

“Today was better than Tuesday, an improved performance, but we should have scored more goals from the chances we created.

“We hit the post and had another VAR decision, we thought Cristiano’s goal was not offside.

“There were three unlucky VAR decisions that went against us, there was also a handball decision inside the box.

“But again we have to deal with it and cope with it. An improved performance but disappointing result.”

Rangnick has only been in charge at United since November, but he must be drained from his persistent public apologies for players who continue to let him down.

As was the case in the humiliating 4-0 defeat against Liverpool on Tuesday night, too many United players failed to spark in a game they needed to win and the inevitable outcome was another defeat.

In a week when his new-born child tragically died, Ronaldo did his part for the United cause by scoring another good goal and being unfortunate to have another chalked off for a tight VAR offside decision.

That incident came at a moment in the match when an unconvincing Arsenal side had gone into their shell, protecting a 2-1 advantage that looked precarious as United pushed to draw level.

The key moment in this game came after 57 minutes, as Fernandes stood over a spot kick that had the potential to swing the momentum in United’s direction.

His stumbling run-up succeeded in sending Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way, only for his effort to strike the post and trickle behind the goal in a blow United never recovered from.

Xhaka’s long-range strike 20 minutes from time finished off United, much to the delight of Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“It was a crucial game for us after two-and-a-half days to recover from a big performance and result at Stamford Bridge,” he said, reflecting on the 4-2 win against Chelsea.

“We wanted to win again and we knew how important our fans would be. They really made it happen with the energy they played with and the spirit they have in the team.

“We have to earn our right to win games and need a bit of luck, and today we had it.”

Fourth place may now be decided when Tottenham play Arsenal in the north London derby on May 12th.

As for United, their days mixing it with Europe’s elite are over for now.

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