Ten Hag hails Man Utd defensive improvement, weighs up Antony decision ahead of Arsenal clash

·3-min read

Erik ten Hag hailed the progress Manchester United have made in their defensive work after recording three successive victories, as he weighs up whether to hand Antony his debut against Arsenal on Sunday.

United continued their recovery from a dismal start to Ten Hag's tenure on Thursday, with Jadon Sancho's goal seeing off Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

The Red Devils last posted three successive league wins in December 2021, when they downed Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Norwich City.

Ten Hag's team have also kept back-to-back clean sheets after clinching a shutout win over Southampton last week, but while the Dutchman is pleased with their defensive improvements, he knows there is still work to be done.

"I have seen some good stuff, you are taking about that. I see structures are coming, we are constructing and that's good to see," he said.

"We have to do that and improve from game to game, and that means work on the training ground, on the video, and in the games.

"Collectively, I see the whole team is defending and that makes it more easy for our defenders, but I think what they do well is they cooperate, they do it together and they support each other.

"They have a good performance and that makes it hard for the opposition to create chances, I think that's what we see in this moment."

Asked where United need to make further progress, Ten Hag added: "I think many more things, about formation, about creating lines and then making the right decisions on the ball.

"Off the ball, we have made a good step, we have a base, but there is still a lot of room for improvement."

United ended a busy transfer window by getting deals for Ajax winger Antony and Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka over the line, but Ten Hag remains unsure whether the former will make his debut against the Gunners.

"Today he did his first training, individually," he said of Antony on Thursday. "Tomorrow we have a team session and Saturday we have a team session.

"So I will think about it, and we will take a decision."

Antony's compatriot Casemiro, meanwhile, is still awaiting his first United start since joining from Real Madrid, with Ten Hag naming the same starting line-up for each of the Red Devils' three consecutive wins.

Asked whether the midfield enforcer could be introduced on Sunday, Ten Hag said: "It is an option.

"I have seen Arsenal, they are a tough opponent. They have started very well, as we all know, this season. You can see they are a team who are together with the coach, he is bringing his philosophy.

"For us it's a good test, we are really looking forward to it.

"We will pick the right team to start, but as you see, it's not only the team, we have a squad."

United have only won one of their past eight Premier League games against Arsenal, posting three draws and four losses in that sequence. However, the Red Devils did triumph 3-2 in this fixture last campaign.