Thursday 18 January 2018

Players believe we can win title - Van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has insisted that Manchester United will confirm their title credentials by winning at Arsenal tomorrow, writes Mark Ogden.

The Dutchman, who guided United to a 2-1 victory at the Emirates last season, takes his team to north London having restored the Old Trafford club to the summit of the Premier League for the first time since Alex Ferguson's retirement in May 2013.

Despite investing more than £250million on new players since succeeding David Moyes as manager in July 2014, Van Gaal has previously played down United's title hopes this season. But after taking his team to the top of the table with victory against Sunderland last Saturday, Van Gaal now claims the belief within his squad can only increase with a win at the Emirates.

"You have to believe always in this (ability to win the title)," Van Gaal said. "And the balance in our selection is much better than last year and last year we had the chance. But the most important thing is not only that I believe, but that the players are believing in that. And when we win at Arsenal, then the belief shall raise a lot."

A victory for Manchester City at home to Newcastle today would restore Manuel Pellegrini's team to the top of the table ahead of United's game.

But Morgan Schneiderlin, the midfielder who had been widely expected to leave Southampton for Arsenal this summer before moving to United, says tomorrow's game offers United the perfect opportunity to prove their worth as credible title challengers.

"Arsenal will be there competing for the title until the end and it is up to us to make a statement on Sunday," Schneiderlin said. "Last year they had a good result against United in the FA Cup and we had a good result against them in the league, so we know we can win this game and it is going to be a battle. But we want to make a statement and show everyone that we deserve to be in first place."

United travel to London with Michael Carrick fit again after being injured for the midweek Champions League victory over Wolfsburg.

While that was United's fourth win in four games, Wenger suffered more criticism after the home defeat by Olympiakos left his team club winless in the Champions League and bottom of their group.

Van Gaal insists the Frenchman remains among the very best managers. "He's doing great work," Van Gaal said. "When you can stay in a club for such a long period of time, you have to be very good, otherwise you shall not succeed, so I think Arsene Wenger is one of the best coaches of the world."

Anthony Martial, United's French forward, will face Arsenal for the first time since playing in Monaco's 3-1 victory at the Emirates last February.

Wenger has admitted to being interested in the 19-year-old, whose August move to United could cost the club up to £58million.

But Monaco now claim that an unnamed club outbid United. "The fixed price was even better and they offered us to have him for a further year in Monaco," Vadim Vasilyev, the Monaco vice-president, said. "But the boy wanted to go to Manchester, it was his dream."

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