While Mikel Arteta spoke enthusiastically about the ‘belief’ such wins bring to Arsenal, Ralf Rangnick was left to discuss his absence from the Manchester United dressing room.
The German was asked if it was difficult to continue to motivate this team, given the situation, given the season. As is the nature of Rangnick – and as the United hierarchy have discovered over the past few weeks – he can’t help but be outspoken.
“Yes, of course it’s hard to get motivated and keep the energy level high. It was important to show some reaction today but there is no substitute for success and that would have been very good for us and the level of confidence in the team.
Instead, any excitement surrounding Erik ten Hag’s appointment quickly evaporated. United were actually behind in three minutes. They are now virtually certain to be kicked out of the Champions League next season, as Rangnick has admitted.
“You look at the table, Tottenham and Arsenal, it’s not very realistic to dream and talk about top four.
That should be another wake-up call for United, of course, in a season full of them.
While Arteta was left to talk about that massive May 12 showdown at Tottenham Hotspur with a glint in his eye, the excitement of being involved in such an occasion, this United team is left adrift.
And it is a squad, it must be remembered, which is one of the most expensive ever formed. Such a waste.
All of this added up to a dysfunctional and disgruntled group. Paul Scholes seemed to let Jesse Lingard into it when he admitted on international television that the midfielder told him the locker room was a “disaster”.
Rangnick was asked about it and couldn’t even quite bring himself to deny it. His response was, at best, nuanced.
“I think the whole group gets along reasonably well, I dare not say they get along well. I don’t see there being a problem as far as the dressing room is concerned.
There are certainly no problems in the Arsenal dressing room at the moment. They are almost the anti-United in this regard. They went through the bleeding process. Although they don’t have United’s expensive stars, or that talent ceiling, it does mean they have a cohesive, united group. That counts on occasions like today, and this run-in.
It could be seen in the celebration after Granit Xhaka’s thunderous winner. Everyone was so happy for him. A player who looked like he could be kicked out of Arsenal instead represented an example of how you can turn things around.
He could even serve as an inspiration to United players in this regard as many face an uncertain future. So many people have to prove that they have to be kept. Many others have no interest in staying.
That’s why Rangnick’s statement that they could register up to 10 players was not an empty phrase. The Independent Ten Hag was said to have told the United hierarchy that they could do with almost an entire XI in terms of improving the standard of the squad. Rangnick backed that up, and he doesn’t think many are up to it.
Some players are eliminated anyway. Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani are all on free transfers, with no interest in new offers.
United themselves are considering another free agent, in Antonio Rudiger. If so, they would be well behind Real Madrid in this race.
But that sums up something else. United have signed a £30million-plus centre-back in four of the last five summers, and they are still looking for another.
No wonder it’s hard to believe whatever the next solution is.
There are problems at every turn. For Arsenal, after going through it all on the other side, there is only a sense of progress.