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Europa League is Manchester United’s top priority now: Jose Mourinho

The United manager spoke in the aftermath of his side's 2-0 loss to Arsenal in the EPL.

IANS | London |

After Manchester United's top-four hopes were over with a 0-2 defeat against Arsenal in English Premier League, United's head coach Jose Mourinho said his side have to chase the Champions League by winning the Europa League now.

Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck scored in a 2-0 win for Arsenal on Sunday to leave United four points off the Champions League places.

This was Arsene Wenger's first competitive win over Mourinho. 

"Like today, we try to play for a result. You cannot say that we didn't try to win the game and that's what we will try to do in the remaining three matches in the Premier League," Mourinho told Sky Sports. 

"But, obviously, everything for Thursday. I don't think the other ones (in the top four race), playing one match a week and being in a great situation, I don't think they are going to blow it.

"We have to chase the Champions League by trying to win the Europa League. I don't think we have any chance of finishing top four," he added.

Mourinho also made wholesome changes which saw Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Daley Blind, Marcus Rashford warm the bench while Antonio Valencia did not even make the trip to London.

"I'm disappointed with the result, not the performance at all," he added. "I like very much the individual performances and I also like collectively.

"We lost because we didn't score and we had great chances to score before them. They had the luck of that goal. We didn't score before them, just that. I cannot demand more from players who don't play one minute of football in the past seven weeks. I think Jones, Smalling, Mata were amazing, the way they performed after seven weeks of being out.

"The kid, the same. I think he did an amazing job and I think Alexis knows his name because the kid really played very well," he added

The result might have been different had Wayne Rooney taken a good chance in the first half before Xhaka's long-range effort deflected in off Ander Herrera.

Mourinho, though, refused to criticise the Spaniard.

"Herrera played every game. He did fantastically well to play 60 minutes and the goal is a lucky situation. We had much better opportunities to score and we didn't score. I don't think we deserve to lose this match," Mourinho said.

"I feared that I couldn't change players like Mkhitaryan and Herrera, players who played 90 minutes in Vigo, because I would have to change Mata, Jones and Smalling. But they were fantastic.

"This game is a plus for them. We need everybody. We have such a small squad in this moment and these guys have a fantastic answer," he added.

Replying to a question that it was his first defeat to bitter rival Arsene Wenger, Mourinho said: "It's the first time I leave Highbury or Emirates and they (Arsenal fans) are happy. It's the first time.

"I left Highbury, they were crying. I left the Emirates, they were crying. They were walking the streets with their heads low. So finally today, they sing. It's nice for them. It's a big club. You think I enjoy the fact that a big club like Arsenal are not winning big trophies? Honestly, I'm not enjoying that.

"Arsene Wenger is not a small manager, he's a big manager. So to have that record of winning so many matches and not losing in so many matches, is something that's not normal.

"Normally it's win, lose, draw. It's not normal, and I really don't care about it. And during the game I didn't like what I never like, he puts too much pressure on the fourth official," he added.