Monday 14 October 2019

Solskjaer: No problem refocusing on Arsenal after Champions League drama

United head to the Emirates Stadium looking for a 10th successive away win under their caretaker manager.

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to continue his impressive start to life in the hotseat at Arsenal (John Walton/PA)
Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to continue his impressive start to life in the hotseat at Arsenal (John Walton/PA)

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Manchester United’s players are refocused and ready to go again at Arsenal on the back of their jaw-dropping Champions League win at Paris St Germain.

Talk has turned to when, rather than if, the 46-year-old gets the job on a permanent basis after continuing his extraordinary audition as caretaker manager at the Parc des Princes.

Solskjaer’s side overturned a 2-0 home loss – his only defeat in 17 matches at the helm – by triumphing 3-1 at the death in Paris to progress to the last eight.

Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty secured Manchester United a dramatic victory over Paris St Germain in midweek (Thibault Camus/AP)

It was an amazing night but now comes a return to Premier League action and a chance to make a mark in the top-four race at fellow challengers Arsenal.

“No problem whatsoever,” Solskjaer said of the squad’s focus.

“We have gone through to the quarter-finals, which is what we sometimes expect of Man United.

“But it was the way it happened and the celebrations at the end, it just happens when you win a game like we did.

“But then again, no problem – we’ve got Arsenal, a fantastic game to get yourself ready again.”

United head to the Emirates Stadium on a club-record winning streak on the road.

PSG was their ninth successive away win in all competitions – a run that includes January’s 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round triumph at Arsenal.

Manchester United’s 3-1 FA Cup win at Arsenal in January was one of nine successive away wins for the Red Devils (John Walton/PA)

“It’s the same decisions you always have when you go into a game,” Solskjaer said when that win in north London was brought up.

“One, you’ve got to consider their approach, which system do you think they will play, which is impossible to predict because they change a lot.

“But then you need to look at who is fit and how we want to approach the game as well.

we’ve got Arsenal, a fantastic game to get yourself ready again.”

We’ve got Arsenal, a fantastic game to get yourself ready again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“It might be different kind of systems or is it a counter-attacking game you want – it’s all sorts.

“But now of course the fitness issue plays in more than ever because we’ve got players coming back, players who put a proper shift in.

“It was one of the hardest nights we’ve had physically – probably this one (PSG) and the Arsenal cup game are the two hardest games we’ve had.

Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot were among the Manchester United youngsters given a chance to shine at the Parc des Princes (John Walton/PA)

“It was great to have fresh legs – Scott (McTominay), Fred – they do cover the ground so much so it’s something we have to consider.”

Paul Pogba is available after serving a European ban in Paris, while fellow midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera are pushing for a return from injury.

Anthony Martial is available again after a groin injury, giving Solskjaer a welcome selection headache having been without 10 players in midweek.

  1. Cardiff 1 Manchester United 5 (FA Cup)
  2. Newcastle 0 Manchester United 2 (Premier League)
  3. Tottenham 0 Manchester United 1 (Premier League)
  4. Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3 (FA Cup)
  5. Leicester 0 Manchester United 1 (Premier League)
  6. Fulham 0 Manchester United 3 (Premier League)
  7. Chelsea 0 Manchester United 2 (FA Cup)
  8. Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United 3 (Premier League)
  9. Paris St Germain 1 Manchester United 3 (Champions League)

Alexis Sanchez, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia remain absent, but the caretaker manager, an eternal optimist, prefers to focus on what he does have at his disposal.

“I don’t know any other way to approach things,” Solskjaer added.

“Every single time I’ve been injured you have to look at what opportunities does this give you.

“When players are injured it gives me great opportunity to play the likes of Scott, Fred, Andreas (Pereira), because it was hard to leave Ander, Nemanja, Paul out because those three midfielders played fantastic.

“But that (PSG) game was the perfect chance to see them (Fred, McTominay and Pereira).

“I can’t control how many players are out. And you can’t do anything about it.”

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