Man United's Europa League form must lead to Premier League improvement, says Solskjaer

By Sports Desk November 07, 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has acknowledged Manchester United must now take their Europa League form into the Premier League after his side dismantled Partizan Belgrade 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford - starting together for the first time - paved the way for a routine win on Thursday, as United ensured their progression from Group L with two games to spare.

Scott McTominay's late injury was the only blemish, though Solskjaer was frustrated by some wasteful finishing early on.

However, with a clean sheet and three well-taken goals, Solskjaer has now demanded his side, who sit 10th in the Premier League with just three wins so far, show improvement domestically.

"That's the foundation, it's a platform to perform from," Solskjaer told beIN SPORTS.

"We know we've worked on defending this year and have been solid, we just want to see more of this in the Premier League. Score goals, create chances and see smiles on the players' faces.

"Parts of the game were really good, parts of the performance were really high quality.

"You want to see five or six or seven [goals] but at times I think maybe some players started thinking of Sunday, started to recover a bit and we were a bit sloppy at the end but at times we looked really dangerous.

"First 10 or 15 minutes we should have buried the game and it should have been over by then, but we managed to get the goals and got the clean sheet which is always important for confidence for the goalkeeper and back four. Now we can just look forward to Sunday.

"Very happy [with qualifying]. It means in the last two games we can give game time to other players that need it, some players will come back from injury, so we'll use them to of course try to win the group, but it makes me think about resting a few anyway."

Rashford missed several gilt-edged chances in the first half but came up with a superb finish shortly after the break to put the result beyond doubt and, after United's dismal defeat at Bournemouth last time out, the England forward was delighted the side bounced straight back.

"A good performance which is the main thing, very happy, we take the game as a big positive so we move on and improve," Rashford told BT Sport.

"It's something we've been focusing on, as the forward players. Hopefully today was just the start of it and we can keep improving and be more natural.

"That's the main thing, trying to help each other score and score goals ourselves. We have a big emphasis on that and at the same time try to work for the team then it's a big positive.

"The main thing when you lose a game is you want to win the next one, that's the main thing as a player. It's not nice to lose but it feels very nice to win, to put it right and today we managed to do that."

Related items

  • Interim boss Ljungberg urges Arsenal to make manager decision Interim boss Ljungberg urges Arsenal to make manager decision

    Freddie Ljungberg believes Arsenal now need to make a swift decision in their search for a new manager.

    Arsenal slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Manchester City on Sunday, with Kevin De Bruyne playing the starring role with two excellent goals and an assist.

    The Gunners have managed just one victory in 12 games across all competitions, with Ljungberg having overseen the last five matches on an interim basis following Unai Emery's dismissal.

    However, the search for a new permanent boss does not appear to be nearing its completion, with reports suggesting City assistant Mikel Arteta is still a primary target, and Ljungberg has urged Arsenal to make a decision soon.

    "We all have to look in the mirror. What I felt is that the West Ham game [a 3-1 win for Arsenal] was a big step in the right direction," Ljungberg told a news conference.

    "I haven't seen that from a team in a long time. Today, they [City] are a top side, they are a lot better than us. 

    "For me it's a great honour to do this, but Per [Mertesacker, serving as Ljungberg's assistant] is an academy manager and he is doing two jobs. I think it needs to be cleared up, so everybody knows.

    "That's what I've said but it's totally up to the club. I'm very honoured and I will do what I can, but I think we need to make a decision, regardless of what it is."

    Many fans appeared to have left Emirates Stadium well before full-time on Sunday, but Ljungberg insisted he was proud of the support offered to his side.

    "I'm an Arsenal man and we try everything but we need to be a bit realistic as well, there is a gulf between City and Liverpool and the rest," Ljungberg said.

    "I am happy and proud of the fans, they responded well to the young players that came on. Of course they can see there's a difference. They sang in the end and appreciated the young boys trying it.

    "We know in the last couple of years we have struggled against City at home. When we countered on them which was one of our game-plans they took five yellow cards just kicking us down.

    "Maybe we can learn to be a bit more cynical and not let our opponents counter on us. It's a bit of a weakness of ours. We need to take those fouls.

    "That's intelligent by City. It's tactical, there's no other way. Maybe we need to be cynical as well, take the free-kick and nothing happens."

  • Barnstorming De Bruyne bullies gutless Gunners as Foden succeeds in Silva's place Barnstorming De Bruyne bullies gutless Gunners as Foden succeeds in Silva's place

    There was a time when the thought of Manchester City without David Silva would have left supporters in a nervous sweat, such has been his influence and impact in the Premier League.

    The crafty Spaniard will arguably go down as the greatest import in Premier League history, with his technical and passing abilities almost unrivalled, while he has enjoyed incredible success with City.

    Yet, if Sunday's exceptional 3-0 demolition of Arsenal proved anything about City, it's that their midfield now looks better without Silva, who will depart at the end of the season.

    One man stood out in particular in north London.

    After the whistle was blown to signify the end of the first half at Emirates Stadium, Kevin De Bruyne ambled towards the tunnel appearing typically expressionless – his face showing no hint of acknowledgement of what he had just done to Arsenal.

    It was an absolute masterclass from the barnstorming Belgian, whose trademark blend of emphatic power and technical wizardry left the Gunners utterly helpless.

    The first goal, just 89 seconds into the match, was quintessential De Bruyne. Receiving Gabriel Jesus' cut-back as it sat up for him, he found the roof of the net with a finish that seemed to defy the laws of physics, picking up remarkable speed despite it being a controlled, side-footed strike.

    That was just the tip of the iceberg, however.

    There was a purpose and relentlessness to De Bruyne's performance that gave the impression he was playing with a vengeance, like he'd been wronged and was out to exact revenge by imposing misery on the hosts.

    That drive was plain to see when creating City's second goal, exchanging passes with Jesus before darting forward with three defenders for company and squaring to Raheem Sterling for an easy finish.

    But there was even more to that goal than De Bruyne just running very fast in a straight line and then passing. The move began just outside City's own penalty area, with Rodrigo doing brilliantly under pressure before Phil Foden took several out of the equation with a line-breaking pass.

    It was a fitting involvement from the 19-year-old, who was making his first Premier League start of the season in place of the injured Silva.

    Many had long been calling out for Foden to secure a place in the starting XI ahead of Silva, who by his own standards has been underwhelming this term.

    The talented England Under-21 international quietly went about his business during the first half, often filling the half spaces towards the flanks. Although by no means devastating, almost every time Foden got the ball he looked capable of picking through Arsenal's midfield line.

    He did just that when setting up De Bruyne's gorgeous second, turning cleverly and darting into space before nudging possession to the Belgian, who sumptuously found the bottom-left corner.

    History almost repeated itself late in the half, the same pair combining – only this time Bernd Leno displayed a comparable level of brilliance with an astonishing save, tipping De Bruyne's strike on to the post.

    With De Bruyne's ruthlessness, Foden's nous for finding dangerous spaces and Rodri's authoritative conducting, City's midfield looks set for the foreseeable future.

    Though Pep Guardiola's use of Foden does continue to puzzle.

    The decision to withdraw him in the 56th minute when 3-0 up against a team with barely a modicum of mental fortitude was eyebrow-raising, particularly given Guardiola's regular backing of Foden as Silva's so-called heir.

    Foden's ability has even led Guardiola to lauding him as the greatest young player he's ever worked with. This from the man who coached Lionel Messi during his early years.

    If Foden even gets close to De Bruyne's standard, City fans will consider themselves extremely fortunate, as on Sunday's evidence there are few better than the Belgian.

    In De Bruyne and Foden, City have a creative hub that could dominate for years – but Guardiola needs to let go of the reins if the latter is to succeed Silva and reach the level he appears destined for.

  • Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Peerless De Bruyne inspires emphatic victory Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Peerless De Bruyne inspires emphatic victory

    Kevin De Bruyne produced a masterclass as Manchester City breezed to a 3-0 win over a listless Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday 

    The Belgium midfielder scored two high-quality goals and provided an assist for Raheem Sterling in a one-sided victory for City.

    Defending champions City are 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and four behind second-place Leicester City.

    Arsenal remain in ninth – seven points off Chelsea in fourth spot – in a defeat that will have done little to enhance interim boss Freddie Ljungberg's prospects of landing the job on a permanent basis.

    Gunners forward Gabriel Martinelli brought an early save out of City goalkeeper Ederson but Pep Guardiola's side began the rout in the second minute.

    An intelligent pass from Fernandinho released Gabriel Jesus down the left flank, and he cut the ball back for De Bruyne, who side-footed a clinical half-volley high into the net.

    City strengthened their grip on the game when De Bruyne rounded off a brisk counter-attack with a low ball across the box – via a slight deflection – that Sterling steered home from close range.

    De Bruyne curled in City's third from outside the box five minutes before half-time after a smart pass from Phil Foden, on his first league start of the season.

    Only a spectacular fingertip save from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, on the stroke of half-time, denied De Bruyne a first-half hat-trick.

    The second half was largely a non-event as City dominated possession and Arsenal, who managed one shot on target in the contest, chased shadows.

    Boos and jeers from the home supporters at half-time and near silence at full-time at the Emirates summed up the current mood of the Arsenal fanbase while the visitors chanted De Bruyne's name.

     

    What does it mean? City rediscover swagger

    Liverpool have been near flawless as the Premier League season closes in on its mid-point while City have stuttered and stumbled in their wake.

    On their day, though, Guardiola's side are still capable of some mesmerising football. Against Arsenal they regained some of their swagger as they rebuilt confidence following last weekend's chastening Manchester derby defeat.

    City are clinging onto the coattails of Liverpool, and this was a reminder to Jurgen Klopp's side that, despite their strong position, they will need to keep glancing over their shoulder.

    Masterful display from majestic De Bruyne

    Afforded the freedom of the Emirates, De Bruyne produced a peerless midfield display. He showed superb technique with his right and left feet for his two goals. 

    A first Premier League hat-trick was the only thing missing from an individual showing among the best from any player this season.

    Ozil among AWOL Arsenal players

    The list of pitiful performances by Arsenal's players was a long one: Matteo Guendouzi, Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all dreadful.

    However, a traffic cone may have provided more impetus in attack than Mesut Ozil against City, such was his anonymity. He cut an equally unenthusiastically figure as he trudged off the pitch when substituted just before the hour, before kicking his gloves in frustration.

    What's next?

    Manchester City head to Oxford United in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup on Wednesday before they return to Premier League action with a key home fixture against Leicester on Saturday. Arsenal head to Goodison Park next Saturday in the day's early kick-off.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.