EPL

Solskjaer insists Arsenal draw gives Man Utd more Premier League title belief

By Sports Desk January 30, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United were given more belief in their Premier League ambitions after Saturday's 0-0 draw at Arsenal.

The Red Devils, three days on from a shock home defeat by Sheffield United, failed to take advantage of a weakened Gunners side as their winless run over Mikel Arteta's men stretched to five league games.

Alexandre Lacazette hit the crossbar with a free-kick but Edinson Cavani missed perhaps the best two chances of the match as United made it five consecutive league meetings with so-called big-six sides without scoring a goal.

The draw means Solskjaer's men are three points behind league leaders Manchester City, having played a game more, as their title aspirations took another blow.

Although manager Solskjaer was not interested in discussing their chances of becoming champions for the first time since 2012-13, he insisted his players will take heart from the game at Emirates Stadium.

"We don't think about the title race or the title now, we're in January," he said. "We're just focusing on getting back on the road.

"The disappointment on Wednesday was big, but today gives us more belief again because we feel we dominated and created enough big chances to win the game, [but] you can never control that result. The reaction and the approach to the game was good.

"Of course, you look at every game but you look at the games we played against Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Liverpool, we defend well, we don't really concede many chances. That's one foundation to play from. We need to take our chances and we know we have players to do that – we just haven't done it.

"We just want to keep on working with them on the training ground. Today, with the chances we had, we feel that we should have won it but then you have to score to win. Definitely, that's something I want my forwards to sort out, they've scored so many goals throughout their careers."

Cavani started the contest but could not convert two good chances in the second half that would have handed United all three points, the striker failing to record a shot on target.

"I just look at his movement and his cleverness in his movement and I know exactly how fine margins there are," Solskjaer said.

"You've got to open up your ankle a little bit on the first one as the goal is gaping, and the second one is just hit the ball a touch earlier so you can get your foot around it. That's half a centimetre on your foot and you have to do it so quickly.

"The big thing is that he's there on the end of all the chances, which is something I hope Mason [Greenwood], Anthony [Martial], Marcus [Rashford] look at him and learn from him."

The draw did at least allow United to set a new club record of 18 consecutive away league games without defeat.

"That's a great achievement by these players and the group," Solskjaer said. "They're working hard. When we travel in hotels, the mood is very good, they prepare well.

"It just shows how far we've come as well. Eighteen games is a long, long run and long may it continue. We hope to get some more wins, of course."

While signings before the transfer deadline are unlikely, United on Saturday recalled James Garner and Tahith Chong from loans at Watford and Werder Bremen and sent the youngsters to Nottingham Forest and Club Brugge, respectively.

Solskjaer does not expect any further loan exits, despite speculation Brandon Williams could be sent away for playing time.

"Brandon will stay," he said. "He's been working really hard and we don't have any other players that we think will be going. We need a strong squad; it's a relentless season.

"It's like the NBA: we're on the road again all the time, we need everyone and the group is tight and Brandon has been really good in the last few months, working really hard, and he's ready when the chance comes."

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