DEJECTED Luke Shaw admitted Manchester United deserved to lose their blockbuster clash at Arsenal.
And the full-back reckons the 90th-minute Eddie Nketiah sucker-punch was a “reality check” for a Red Devils team in transition under Erik ten Hag.
Arsenal managed a whopping 25 shots to United’s six and dominated the second half in the 3-2 comeback win.
Shaw had a torrid afternoon at the Emirates as he found himself constantly backing into the penalty area while his England team-mate Bukayo Saka twisted and turned.
A crestfallen Shaw confessed: “In the second half maybe we deserved that.
“We were a bit passive and we let them control the game in the second half and to concede right at the end is gutting.
“We know they’re an extremely good side and we were fighting all the way until that last second.
“In games like this, you need to be concentrating for the whole game because one lapse in concentration and you will concede against a good side.
“We started getting control of the game. We were winning the ball high up the pitch which led to us scoring the first goal.
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“First half went well but second half we backed off a bit and let them have control of the game.
“They were having chance after chance and it’s going to be like that at the end of the game then they are always going to get one more big chance.”
United were just minutes away from clinging on to a point which would have kept them eight points off Arsenal.
But with Michael Olise’s late free-kick on Wednesday followed by Nketiah’s flick, Erik ten Hag’s side have dropped three crucial points since winning the Manchester derby.
They now sit on 39 points after 20 games, level with Newcastle, six clear of fifth-placed Tottenham but 11 behind Arsenal who have a game in hand.
United’s next three games are all in the cups with the two legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest either side of Saturday’s FA Cup tie at home to Reading before returning to Premier League action on February 4.
Shaw added: “You have to give Arsenal credit for what they have done this season.
“We are only half way but they deserve to be at the top from the way they are playing.
‘WE ARE GUTTED’
“There is a long way to go and we have to focus on our next game as we have a big semi-final coming up.
“The quality of these games are getting much more. It was a very tough game to be involved in but these are the games everyone wants to be involved in to test yourself against the best.
“But we are gutted in the dressing room for conceding late on.
“It is a bit of reality check to where we are at the moment but we have to get back to work with an extremely big game on Wednesday against Forest.”
Shaw was named by Roy Keane as one of the four players that prove Manchester United are struggling to progress and are “well short” of where they should be, especially given Ten Hag oversaw £206million of summer spending.
The Irishman said: “United have made progress but at the end of the game, I’m looking at Luke Shaw still at left-back – there are question marks over him.
“Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Scott McTominay – it’s like Manchester United haven’t moved on from the problems in the past.
“I’m not blaming them as it was a tough game, give credit to Arsenal. It was a reality check.
“For all the money United have spent they are still well short.
“I think they are certs for top four, maybe win a cup but in terms of competing for league titles there is a bit to go.”
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