Tuanzebe exposes senior team-mates

Jose Mourinho’s post-match press conferences are always acts of self-preservation.

The Manchester United manager was telling the truth, however, when he said after his club’s defeat to Arsenal that "trophies make history".

United’s league season has been a failure. Finishing fourth – which wouldn’t have been guaranteed, even if they’d won at the Emirates – would not change that.

Equally, there is no difference between coming fifth and sixth.

Targeting the Europa League – which, of course, would deliver Champions League football next season – made complete sense.

But while Mourinho was ambivalent about Sunday’s game, it mattered more to several of the established names who started.

For Chris Smalling and Phil Jones – who have been subject to barbs from their manager over their continued lack of availability – it was an opportunity to show they deserve to be retained beyond the summer.

Neither of them took it.

In mitigation, both players hadn’t played for a couple of months.

Then again, neither had Axel Tuanzebe, who was also making his Premier League debut in a position that was not his best.

Yet the 19-year-old Tuanzebe outclassed them both, and demonstrated in the process that he is ready for first-team exposure.

Like Smalling and Jones, Wayne Rooney offered nothing. If anything, he was a liability.

Mourinho is likely to get rid of all three players this summer.

Tom Bowles

Arsenal pair go back to basics


For their three crucial points against Manchester United, Arsenal can thank two members of a British core that have lost their way in recent seasons.

With stamina, work rate and a tendency to pop up with important goals, Aaron Ramsey should be looking to emulate Ray Parlour’s time with the Gunners.

But for too long he has instead tried to be Dennis Bergkamp.

On Sunday, though, the Welshman largely avoided the ill-advised backheels and wayward passes that have made him a figure of frustration for Arsenal supporters.

He got back to what he does best.

Covering more ground in the midfield than any other player and making darting runs into the box, it was comfortably his finest performance of the season, and arguably for many years.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, recorded his seventh Premier League assist of the season – matching his total from the previous five years combined – with a stunning cross for Danny Welbeck.

He has been excellent since being restored to a wide role after toiling in the centre of midfield during the Gunners’ troubled Feburary and March run.

With their new 3-5-2 system, Arsenal have gone back to basics.

With players now featuring in the roles in which they are most comfortable, their top-four challenge is still very much on.

Jack Green

Lurching Liverpool limp on


That Jamie Carragher felt compelled to stress that just a point was not disastrous on Sunday rather summed up where Liverpool are at the moment: stuttering over the finishing line.

In fairness, he was right.

In only drawing with Southampton, Jurgen Klopp's side handed the destiny of the Champions League spots into the Manchester clubs' hands, only to watch United pass it straight back over to them.

But such slip-ups from elsewhere may be what they continue to rely on.

The hosts were turgid and sloppy at Anfield, failing to create a single goalscoring chance from any guile or skill.

James Milner's penalty award, while correct, was only a result of fortune.

Very rarely – as happens far too often in the absence of Sadio Mane – did any of their front six venture outside the width of the penalty area, leaving Nathaniel Clyne and Milner to work tirelessly to provide any kind of delivery into the box.

Taking two points from nine at home represents a serious wobble – particularly when those matches are against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

Even away, they have relied on Emre Can's goal-of-the-season contender to win at Watford, and Roberto Firmino's long-range volley to resurrect them at Stoke.

Wherever the Reds finish this season, they will not have convinced throughout 2017.

Klopp still has much work to do.

Adam Drury