Phil Jones insists there is “no need to panic” despite Manchester United’s stuttering league form continuing thanks to a last-gasp Arsenal leveller that left the team feeling like they had been “slapped 6-0”.
Much was expected of Jose Mourinho’s men having started the season with three successive wins, yet United have won just two of the subsequent nine Premier League matches.
The latest frustrating chapter came on Saturday lunchtime as Juan Mata deservedly put the hosts ahead, only for substitute Olivier Giroud to cancel it out in the 89th minute to earn Arsenal a fortuitous 1-1 draw.
It was the Gunners’ only attempt on target and meant United were held to a third straight league draw on home turf for the first time since 1992.
“It feels like we have been slapped 6-0,” defender Jones said. “We completely dominated the game from start to finish.
“I thought even when they had a spell of possession they never really created anything to test us.
“I thought we defended well, created chances and it was just one of those things.
“They got one chance and scored. We have to pick ourselves up, we are pleased with the performance but not with the result.”
The draw, on the back of similarly dispiriting results at home to Stoke and Burnley, led Mourinho to claim his side are the unluckiest in the league – sentiments Jones concurred with.
“It is crazy,” the 24-year-old said. “If we had won today, then we would have been three points behind Arsenal.
“Arsenal have had a world-class season and we are supposed to have had an average season. That is just the way the Premier League works.
“But we are pleased with the performance, I thought we created chances and probably should have scored more.
“There is no need to panic yet. We have been playing well and creating chances, it is just that bit of luck that we need and hopefully it will come soon.”
Jones on his return at Man Utd
Jones has learned the importance of patience the hard way as the talented defender has been beset with injury problems over recent years.
Saturday’s match was his first at Old Trafford since January 2, yet his performances in back-to-back Premier League appearances following a knee injury has earned praise from Mourinho.
“It is awful but as a footballer you can’t feel sorry for yourself, go into a little hole and never come out of your home,” Jones said.
“You have got to go about your day as you would normally, work hard in training and I have worked to get back to where I am now. I want to stay here and I want to play more games.
“I have worked hard on my fitness, it has been tough mentally for me and it has been so frustrating. I can’t put into words how frustrating it has been, but that is behind me and I want to move forward to play as many games as I can.”
Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling’s injuries, along with the packed schedule, have given Jones the chance to make his mark in the first-team – an opportunity he is not getting too wrapped in for fear of it playing on his mind.
Jones wants to play with a freedom and confidence, which is why he eased himself back from his latest setback with the long-term in mind.
Jones delayed return
Asked if he took longer to come back to make sure he was right, the defender said: “Yeah, probably. Not ridiculously longer but I wanted to make sure that I was 100 per cent right going into the first game.
“I was fit for a good few weeks before the Swansea game with training, and it was the training that I needed, but you can never replicate the game.
“Training and games are two different things. The Premier League is so quick and sharp these days. It is games that I need and hopefully I can keep getting them.”