Football News

Erik ten Hag brushes off defensive concerns after Man Utd concede 31 shots to Brentford

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 15:30, 1 April 2024 | Updated: 16:59, 3 April 2024

Erik ten Hag isn’t concerned with the defensive frailties Manchester United has shown in recent Premier League outings.

It was another frustrating outing for the record 20-time English champions, who dropped two points at Brentford despite leading. Mason Mount put United ahead in the 96th minute, only for Kristoffer Ajer to equalise three minutes later.

This was just the third 1-1 draw in Premier League history to see both goals come in the 90th minute or later (also Arsenal v Liverpool in April 2011 and Watford v Leicester in June 2020).

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Concerning was the fact Man Utd conceded 31 shots (albeit five on target) while the Bees hit the woodwork on four occasions. Allowing their opposition to pepper Andre Onana is becoming a regular occurrence.

The inconsistent Red Devils have now faced 20+ shots in six of their last seven Premier League games. Furthermore, they have faced 20+ shots in 11 different top-flight matches this term, with only Sheffield United (12) doing so more often.

Brentford (85) subsequently became just the third side on record (since 2008-09) to have 80+ touches in the opposition’s box in a Premier League game after Man City vs Southampton in November 2019 and Man City vs Norwich in July 2020 (87 in both matches).

Ten Hag, who has presided over just one Premier League win across United’s last four outings, feels it’s not a worrying issue.

“As long as we get results, no. I explained it once more: We defended low at times, and because Brentford is very direct, we lost many second balls, and we had to defend the box. We had a great goalkeeper; he was brilliant tonight. We have to say that also. Our results have been quite consistent from January on, but we concede shots, but we don’t concede so many goals,” he told reporters.

“We didn’t deserve to win, but we showed resilience all through the game. But in points of aggression, Brentford were better. We should have shown more passion and desire in many moments in the game. But when you are winning, you should bring it over the line.”

Incredibly, only West Ham (504), Luton (518) and Sheffield United (525) have faced more shots than Man Utd (498), who should reach the 500 barrier when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later this week.

The nation’s capital hasn’t been a pleasant experience, with them winning just one of their last eight Premier League away games against the London sides (two draws and five defeats) and losing four of their previous five. They’ve lost three of their four such visits this season, last losing more in a single top-flight campaign in 1989-90 (four).

The recent Brentford setback leaves Man Utd in sixth place, 11 points behind fourth-place Aston Villa in the race to reach next season’s Champions League, albeit they have a game in hand.