Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag felt Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut gave them greater attacking freedom as they handed Premier League leaders Arsenal their first defeat of the season.
Ronaldo came on in the 58th minute, with United leading 1-0, and Bukayo Saka equalized two minutes later.
Arsenal was level for barely six minutes when Marcus Rashford was sent in by Bruno Fernandes to reclaim United’s lead, and the academy graduate struck again in the 75th minute.
Rashford was moved to the left wing to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo, who enjoyed his most productive game of the season as the center forward.
When asked about the decision to move Rashford, Ten Hag stated: “It can also be done from the right if Cristiano Ronaldo is used as a frontman.
“Marcus played as a nine and from the wing-like Christian Eriksen, a pressing style, he transferred incredibly well, but we expect him to play as a striker, drop in, play over, linking, arriving in the box, and scoring goals.
“I’m really delighted with his performance; it demonstrates his development and opportunity for improvement, but he has such amazing capabilities that I’m happy to have him on the team.”
United have won four straight games for the first time since April 2021, and they are now only three points behind the Premier League lead. Their European tour begins on Thursday with a visit from Real Sociedad, followed by a trip to Crystal Palace the following Sunday.
“We must continue to push,” Ten Hag stated. “Set high standards every day, we have to do better, there’s a lot of room for improvement from the start of the season, we have to work hard every day, and everyone needs to offer their best to Carrington.
“I understand supporters’ dreams; Man United’s standards must be high; we’re at the start of a process; we’re still a long way away; we must do things far better than we do now; that’s an investment.
“We have to do it every day, bring those high standards to Carrington, and improve if we want to win trophies in the end. We have to win every game, and they have to realize that the game is starting with the attitude that we have to win games.”