Saturday 23 February 2019

'He'll love it if the crowd turn against him' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms Alexis Sanchez is ready to return

Alexis Sanchez will start against Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez will start against Arsenal
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Alexis Sanchez will make an appearance against his former club Arsenal in Friday night's FA Cup fourth round clash at Emirates Stadium, and suggested the Chilean forward will relish any abuse coming his way from Gunners fans.

Sanchez left Arsenal for United last January amid a blaze of publicity, but he has struggled to make his mark since moving to Manchester as injuries and an alarming dip in form has affected his efforts.

Now Sanchez is set to return from his latest injury lay-off, with Solskjaer convinced United's highest earning player will be motivated by any criticism coming his way from Arsenal supporters.

"He'll be involved," confirmed Solskjaer of Sanchez. "I think he'll love it if the crowd turn against him. As a player, pride kicks in and you think 'I'll show all of you'. He's been fantastic in training, his attitude has been spot on so hopefully he'll enjoy the game."

Solskjaer offered an optimistic update on United's efforts to secure the services of goalkeeper David de Gea and forward Anthony Martial on new long-term contracts.

Reports have claimed Martial is close to sign a new deal with United and the interim boss is hopeful of positive news soon.

"I think the club is making progress but I leave that to the right people to do that I don't know really how far we are away from it," he confirmed. "Hopefully we're going to have some good news in the coming weeks."

Solskjaer also reflected on his club's fierce rivalry with Arsenal during his playing days, with the battles between Alex Ferguson's United and Arsene Wenger's Gunners among the most memorable of the Premier League era.

"They were always the closest rivals, they win the double, we win the treble, and the games were just fantastic," he added.

"We had a great team they had a very good team. The French connection they had, (Thierry) Henry, (Patrick) Vieira, (Robert) Pires, (Emmanuel) Petit, they were a top team.

"I met them a couple of times in the FA Cup. I think I won two semi-finals but we lost 2-0 at home once in a year, there were some tackles flying in between the two teams. Fantastic games.

"The semi-final in 1999 is such an important game and when Peter (Schmeichel) saves that penalty from Denis Bergkamp that gives us the advantage and we win the treble. If Bergkamp had scored, they'd have won the double, that's how small the margins are, that's the standout for me.

"I watched Giggsy's goal from the sidelines and that was the one highlight apart from walking out on the pitch at Wembley in 99 because growing up in Norway that's the game you look forward to and still remember Norman Whiteside's curler after Kevin Moran was sent off (1985 FA Cup final), that was the one game we knew we were going to watch."

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