Gary Neville heaped praise on Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka despite Manchester United losing 3-1 to Arsenal on Sunday.
Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus scored a goal each in injury time to give the Gunners victory after the hosts equalised through Martin Odegaard just 110 seconds after Marcus Rashford had opened the scoring for the Red Devils.
Alejandro Garnacho had thought he’d won it for Man Utd late on but the Argentina international saw his strike ruled out by VAR for offside.
Neville thinks Man Utd were close to the “perfect away performance” before Garnacho’s goal was ruled out and he reckons the Red Devils defended well for most of the match.
The Man Utd legend said on his Sky Sports podcast: “I think this was probably the best Manchester United have defended this season. They’re playing against the best attackers they’ve faced this season as I believe Arsenal are better than Tottenham.
“There was more compactness and more diligence with Antony and Marcus Rashford in wide areas. The full-backs [Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka] defended really well.
“There was a seriousness to United’s performance today and when [Alejandro] Garnacho put the ball into the back of the net, you felt it was the perfect away performance where you’ve resisted a lot of pressure and gone and scored the goal.
“They made 200 passes in their own half in the opening 45 minutes and they’ve never made that number of passes this season in a full game let alone in half of one.
“I was surprised Arsenal allowed them to do that. United were the away team so they tried to kill the game.
“To a large extent, that’s what they did. They got the goal through Rashford on the break and at half-time they would have been happy.
“Up until the 94th minute, I’d say Erik ten Hag would’ve been proud of what his players did.
“They’ve rightly been accused in the past of their appalling record in away matches against other top nine teams – they’d picked up one point from the 24 available last season which is just awful.
“It was big for them the last 10 minutes, and they’ve fallen short again. That will be the over-riding thought at the end of this game.”
Neville added: “There will be massive disappointment, but if I’m thinking about it logically, there were elements of that performance that were a lot better than what I saw at Tottenham and certainly than what I saw against Nottingham Forest and Wolves where I thought at times, they got cut apart.
“Today, I saw something that resembles a team in defence. Goals change matches and it changes our thinking, but Arsenal were quite passive at times.
“The big worry now is over the defence because they’ve lost Raphael Varane and then today they lost Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez at centre-back. That’s a problem. The midfield was better today but Sofyan Amrabat will add something to their game. United have been below par to what you’d expect them to be so far.”