Solskjaer: Every game is going to be important
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is embracing the battle for a top-four spot in the Premier League and believes that every single game between now and 12 May will be vital in helping the Reds reach this objective.
Going into the latest round of Premier League fixtures, United lie in fifth position but could regain a spot inside the top four with a win against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, if Arsenal simultaneously drop points against Bournemouth.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Solskjaer was adamant that every single game will matter between now and the end of the campaign, with some big fixtures still to come including Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.
“Yeah, it'll be exciting,” he said. “Obviously, we've got Chelsea at home, we've got Arsenal away, and Tottenham and Chelsea play each other on Wednesday. There are going to be so many games that matter in the end, because I don't think there'll be many points between fourth, fifth and sixth places.
“The players will have a say on how we play for the rest of the season. We need to keep going, keep progressing, keep getting results, keep getting the crowd behind us, because we need that. We need to fight from now until the end of the season.”
One of the ways in which United have thrust themselves into top-four contention over the last two months is through an improved goals-against record. The Reds have kept seven clean sheets in the league this season with five of these coming after Solskjaer's appointment in December. The Norwegian believes that the players have been working hard in training on their organisation and the fruits of their labour are clear for all to see.
“Yeah, we've spent a lot of time on the structure and the shape, how we defend," he said. "The first few games maybe didn't give us too many challenges in that respect, but then we went to Arsenal. You could see how we were pulled all over the place in midfield and our back four were like battering rams. The midfield shape has improved a lot which has helped the back four to play as a back four and not be scattered all over the place."
League form aside, United are in the quarter-finals of the Emirates FA Cup and have a Champions League last-16 second leg fixture against Paris Saint-Germain on the horizon. While every fan is eager for the Reds to reclaim a spot in the top four and qualify for the Champions League again next season, Solskjaer was eager to point out that the culture of United is still all about winning trophies.
“As I've said many times before, every day here is a chance to improve your standards and we need to get back to the standards that are set for a Man United player.
“We can't say that we're happy with just top four, although a top-four finish would be fantastic, but to get to the final in the FA Cup and win a trophy would be brilliant. So, you can't pick and choose.
“We’ve just got to make sure now against Palace that we're ready. Then it's Southampton, PSG, Arsenal and Wolves. Every game is going to be important.”
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