Eric Bailly has spoken about the mentality Manchester United will need to finish second in the Premier League – and about the challenge Sunday’s opponents Arsenal face as they try to compete on two fronts.
Arsene Wenger will manage the Gunners at Old Trafford for the final time in the 16:30 BST kick-off, with both teams needing a good result to help achieve twin aims at the close of 2017/18.
The Reds are aiming to end the campaign as league runners-up and Emirates FA Cup winners, while the visitors are balancing the push for Europa League qualification with the chance to win that competition this term.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with United Review, the Reds’ official matchday programme, Bailly recalled the demands of juggling league and European ambitions last season, when the Reds won the Europa League.
“We had that experience a year ago,” the centre-back said.
“I believe it comes down to the mental condition of the team.
“I can’t comment on the mental strength of the Arsenal team, but it will be a factor in their performances as they manage the stresses of balancing the two competitions at the same time.”
The Ivorian defender believes there is plenty of confidence within the squad as the end of the season approaches and that the Reds have the right attitude to ensure a successful finish.
“We are always confident that we can win. We are Manchester United,” he declared.
“We go into every game with the same mentality that we have to win. We want second place, that’s the aim, but we cannot look beyond this game.
“We always want to fight. We fight against Arsenal and we know they are a big team with many quality players and that is our only focus now.”
After the achievement of winning in Stockholm last season, Bailly feels it is crucial to end 2017/18 on a similar high by finishing second, to continue the upward trajectory under Jose Mourinho.
“It is really important for us as players, for the club itself, and for the fans,” he said.
“It is a very different proposition to finishing fourth, even if both would lead us into the Champions League, because it is important to set out to achieve that goal of second place, which we have set ourselves. It shows our progress.”
Read the full, exclusive interview with Eric in Sunday's United Review. Pick up your copy at the ground or order it online now.