Critics question Mourinho's negative approach

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At Emirates Stadium, Arsenal were the favoured ones.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes to the team which narrowly overcame Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-final first leg with an eye on the second leg.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho stoked the embers of his rivalry with Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger after his side's damaging 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

Not everyone buys into his logic, however, with former Ireland striker Tony Cascarino among several accusing him of negativity.

Despite the defeat, Mourinho was eager to praise his team's performance and could find no fault with the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata, who were all making their first starts following extended spells on the sidelines. I think he did an fantastic job and I think Alexis [Sanchez] knows his name because the kid played very well. There's nearly a sense of fear about the players and that isn't what United fans expect.

Arsenal scored twice in three minutes to claim a deserved 2-0 win over their rivals from Manchester. Mourinho should be given the time to rebuild this club, some results this season have shown he can do that.

"We have some worries for Koscielny", said Wenger. "The game was under control".

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Among the standouts was Italian full back Matteo Darmian who man-marked Mesut Ozil whenever the German ghosted into United's half, but critics might argue with the negative brief. Mourinho's Manchester United are level on point with Louis van Gaal's team with the same number of games.

Charlie Nicholas has told Sky Sports that he is expecting Arsenal to come away from Southampton with an impressive victory, but suggested that it will not be enough to salvage their top four hopes in the Premier League. But we have a competition which is the second biggest competition in Europe and we are nearly there so the players want, I want, and I think a club like us would always prefer to go into Champions League by winning a trophy than by finishing fourth.

Since winning the league with Chelsea in 2015, Mourinho has failed to reach the heights of his esteemed past.

While most clubs would equate that with success, United are different.

Manchester United are only the ninth highest scorers in the Premier League which is an extraordinary statistic, and with their top scorer out for the rest of the season, they seem devoid of a killer instinct in the final third.

So next season could define Mourinho. When we analyse it in Geneva [at coaching conferences], we always analyse the Champions League and I must say, in some seasons, the team who had low possession won the Champions League.