Solskjaer: I’ve had so many battles with Arsenal!
The boss is relishing the prospect of another big game, as Mikel Arteta brings his charges to M16 for the first time…
Firstly Ole, how timely was that emphatic victory on Wednesday given we’ve got another big home match at the weekend? “Yes of course, every good game and every result you get with a good performance gives you confidence and belief that what we’re doing is working. And, of course, Wednesday night was a special, special result against a very good team.” We’ve been playing excellently away from home but we were searching for that home win. It must be such a good boost to have it now going in to Sunday’s game against Arsenal? “Yeah, every game is a chance to prove that what we’ve been doing has helped. This week the players were really focused and were really looking forward to the game [against Leipzig]. Obviously when you play against teams you haven’t played before they’re more attentive when we watch the videos because it’s something unknown and I’ve got to say the performance was spot on.” It was fantastic to see Marcus Rashford come off the bench to get his hat-trick. It’s not quite four off the bench like you achieved…! “Exactly I was going to say that! [Laughs] Of course [it was a great achievement] and the game was perfect for us, winning 1-0 and putting fresh legs on with Bruno, Marcus and Edinson. As a striker you want to come on when the opposition want to go forward or need to go forward and it was well done to everyone.” Next up another big team, Arsenal. A side we haven’t beaten in the league in the last couple of the seasons. We won well there in the FA Cup but it would also be a great time to beat them at Old Trafford… “I’ve had so many battles against Arsenal and I know exactly how much they [these games] mean to the players and the fans so it will be a big one for us. Under Arteta you’ve seen changes and you see development in them and it’s a great challenge and a test for us.” It’s definitely a tougher test these days under Arteta with a different style of football to previous regimes… “Well I think every manager has their own style and of course he’s played football a lot and worked under Pep and probably took many of his principles from him so we’re looking forward to it.” Arsenal in recent years have been excellent going forward and have often been a bit softer at the back, but they seem to have a better balance at the moment… “I think they’re going to be a hard team to play against. Any Arsenal team is going to be fired up for a Man United game. We know that the game is not going to be won or lost in the first five or 10 minutes, it’s going to be another 90 minutes-plus contest.” How is the squad looking after that game on Wednesday? “Good. There was no injuries [from Wednesday] which is of course is a big plus when you think of every game we play and the intensity. We’re getting better and better, I feel everyone is seeing now that our fitness and sharpness is more up to speed and we should be ready for that game [on Sunday].” It’s a good problem you’ve got now, having to select a team isn’t it because you have a lot of players in form and a lot of players who all deserve to start… “The thing is it doesn’t matter who starts or who finishes the game, it’s the end result. That’s what we’re here for you. We’re here as a team and a group, there isn’t any individual that’s going to be in front of the team. Whoever starts knows that there will be three players coming on most likely. The subs are always ready and they had an impact this week and they might do again.” You’re old team-mate Gary Pallister was in the studio last week and he wondered what your technique is for letting a player know he’s not playing one game but will be important for the next one, in the way Sir Alex used to… “Well of course I’ve probably been on the end of that more than anyone about being on the bench! [Smiles] Of course the gaffer was fantastic when you sat down for the one-to-one chats with him. I remember many of them. Some reasons and excuses I didn’t particularly agree with but he was fantastic at making you feel involved and that’s the part with us too; everyone is going to be important, be it from the first minute, the last minute, this game, the next game. We’ve got a week now, well six days, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday with three massive games before the international break and everyone knows that they’ll be called upon.”