Juan Mata said Manchester United's start to the game that ended in a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium on 4 October was "unacceptable" as the Gunners stunned Louis van Gaal's side with three goals in the first 20 minutes. The former Chelsea star, nevertheless, believes that should Anthony Martial have scored a goal in his one-on-one with Petr Cech just before half-time "things could have been different".
The Red Devils arrived to the game in a sensational form following three consecutive wins in the Premier League, as well as a victory in the Champions League against Wolfsburg. But they failed to continue the good run after being surprised by the Gunners' impressive start as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil scored twice within 33 seconds before the Chilean international netted the third goal of the game before the 20th minute.
"It's not easy to write today and to find words of encouragement after a game like this, but we have to carry on," Mata admitted in his weekly blog at Kicca. "As you could see, everything went wrong in the first half. Before the game, our goal was to keep the top spot of the Premiership, but it wasn't our day as we saw from the kick off.
"Arsenal started with more intensity, they scored very quickly and, with no time for our reaction, they scored the second goal. Not even 10 minutes have passed and things were already looking very bad. A start like this from us is unacceptable; if we want to fight for big things, we must learn the lesson as soon as possible. The only thing I can say is that we shouldn't play a game like this again," he said.
"When we were starting to react and move the ball, Alexis scored the third one. It's not easy to beat Arsenal at their stadium, but when you lose 3-0 after the first 20 minutes, then it's almost impossible. From that moment, we tried to stop them but we didn't create chances, only a good one from Anthony right before half time. If we had scored that one, things could have been different, but nothing happened after the break. We tried to get back into the game, fighting until the end, but obviously we were penalised by our horrible start."
The Spanish international has urges his side to learn from the defeat and put the things right at United just after the international break – to regain the good form they have built in the previous games just prior to the visit to the Emirates Stadium.
"Unfortunately, that was the end of a good month of September. Earlier in the week, we had won against Wolfsburg in the Champions League, coming from one goal behind, and the team was feeling good before the international break, but then we had those horrible 20 minutes," he added.
"Now we must carry on, as I said before, and play like we were doing in previous weeks. And we must learn from this defeat. We have an important month of October ahead, with games that will demand our best level of performance, and we have to be ready for them. Before that, there is an international break. Tomorrow I'm joining the Spain national team. We play against Luxembourg, in Logroño, and Ukraine, in Kiev, trying to seal our passport to the Eurocup in France."