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Chris Smalling

Smalling: We deserved another goal

Chris Smalling played through the pain barrier to complete the entirety of United's 2-2 draw with Arsenal – a game the defender described as “intense from zero to 90 minutes”.

Afterwards, he spoke exclusively to MUTV's Stewart Gardner. Scroll down to hear what United's no.12 had to say...
 
In the end, is that a good point? Or are you frustrated not to take all three?
 
“I think we’re frustrated. We took the initiative in both halves – especially in the second half. We were on the front foot and put them on the back foot. I thought maybe our aggression and intensity deserved another goal.”
 
There seemed to be a real high press and a lot of energy about the United team this evening – particularly the front three. Was that the plan tonight?

“Yeah, it was. We knew that they take risks from the back, that we’d be presented chances, and we knew that if we got after them we’d make it uncomfortable for them, and I felt like they were pretty uncomfortable for most of the night.”

Going behind is a bit of a habit for us but we keep on coming back, which I guess shows the spirit…
 
“Yeah. I think their first was a scrappy goal and, yeah, we were on the back foot again, but this team never gives up and you can see that.”
 
It sounded like you were struggling for the game – what has been your situation?
 
“I was a major doubt and I’ve not trained too much, but we’re in a time where the team comes first, and I’d give everything I can to get on that pitch and to help the boys as much as I can.”
 
There were quite a few players who hadn’t played for a while, some who probably weren’t fully fit, but still, for 96 minutes, they gave everything…
 
“You could probably say our whole backline has not played many minutes. I think it’s just important that everyone does what they can to make themselves available for the game, and has as much treatment and care as they can during the week.”
 
Dalot started his first Premier League game as well – were you impressed with him?
 
“Yeah, I was. He was very good, and so was Marcos [Rojo] and Eric [Bailly], who haven’t played so much either. To come into a game of that intensity – it wasn’t just spells of intensity, it was pretty much intense from zero to 90 minutes – it was very impressive.”

Our post-match interview with MourinhoVideo

Did it feel intense when you were out there? It was certainly intense to watch!
 
“It was, and it really ramped up in that second half. It was quite end-to-end. You could see how much three points meant to both of us, so we were going for it. If we can bring that intensity to each game, it really lifts the crowd, because you could see how much they were vibing off it.”
 
Marcos hasn’t kicked a ball at all this season for United, but it showed what it means for him to play here…
 
“He’s been so unlucky with injuries, but you could see his aggression, his quality on the ball, and to be able to come into a game of this magnitude and high profile and put on the performance he has is very impressive.”
 
Are you still hopeful that by the early part of the New Year we will be closer to the top four?
 
“Yes. We have to decrease this gap that we’ve got right now, and we’ve had a few too many draws. But there are many games coming up, and it’s just about closing that gap now and getting within touching distance.”
 
Are you going to rest up for the weekend now and try and get ready for the next game in a few days?
 
“I think I won’t be doing much up until the next game [in terms of training] but I’ll be doing everything I can to make myself available.”

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Highlights: United 2 Arsenal 2Video