Van Gaal mystified by Manchester United horror show

Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United’s under-par first-half performance against Arsenal on Sunday came as a big surprise to him.

United were beaten 3-0 by Arsene Wenger’s side, with all three goals coming in the first 20 minutes through Alexis Sanchez (2) and Mesut Ozil.

And following the defeat, which sees United drop to third place in the Premier League table, the Dutchman railed against the idea that the performance had been on the cards.

“We didn’t expect it. We were top of the league and won our last four matches – we had to protect our position. But it was always possible this could happen against Arsenal,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports. “We started without emotion – that’s hard to understand. We have to look for reasons.

“When you start like that you can never win a game. We lost every duel, every second ball. We were not tight on their midfielders. They can play. They are a fantastic team. I said in advance that when you give them space it’ll be difficult. At 2-0 after five minutes it is even more difficult.”

Asked if he had any answers for his side’s shoddy start, Van Gaal added that he will have to speak with his side.

“I’m looking for [answers]. I never have seen this of my team before. That is the question I need to put to my players. You have to see the images.

“It was not only one player. Then I can take measure. But it was more than half my team that was not doing what we had agreed in our game plan.”

“The biggest concern is that the players are now flying out from London to their national teams. We cannot prepare properly for Everton. You have to wait to see now if they are fit to play but also if they are mentally fit to play.”