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Top four spot a “minimum”, says United defender

PAY-Arsenal-v-Manchester-UnitedChris Smalling has conceded that Manchester United should be higher on the table but insisted that, after clinching their first away win of the season, things were looking up for Louis Van Gaal’s side.

United secured their first win on the road of the campaign after a 2-1 win against Arsenal at the Emirates and Smalling, who had been the pantomime villain in the derby earlier this month, was among the best players on the pitch, as United withstood Arsenal’s pressure and pounced on the counter.

“Given the manager and the players we have got, we should be playing better than we are, with more points,” the United defender said.

“But we have a good base now with an away win and now we can go back to Old Trafford and build on that.

“We showed a lot of character, we did not play that well and we will go through the video to see what we could have done better.

“We have two home games coming up, and we need six points, then we can have a look at where we are in the table.”

Smalling added that United were looking to kick on after their first away win of the week and that a top four finish was the “minimum for this club”.

United fielded a largely inexperienced backline on Saturday, with Smalling the senior member of the back three alongside Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair and the United defender believes his younger teammates deserved credit for keeping their composure under pressure.

“A lot of our shape was about making sure we were compact, being able to deal with their attack which can sometimes be through three or four players,” said Smalling.

“We had to make sure we were always talking, leading each other along, because if you switch off for any moment, they can nick it, so we just had to deal with each threat that they can bring.”