Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backs strikers to rediscover form after fresh title setback

Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
·4-min read

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed his strikers to return to form after a goalless draw at Arsenal saw Manchester United fall further behind in the Premier League title race.

The visitors left the Emirates Stadium after a 0-0 stalemate, with Solskjaer – who insisted after the match he is not thinking about the title at this stage of the season – making five changes from the shock defeat to struggling Sheffield United in midweek.

They now sit three points behind leaders Manchester City, having also played a game more than their neighbours, and missed the better of the chances to win the game in north London.

Manchester United were unable to make the breakthrough at Arsenal
Manchester United were unable to make the breakthrough at Arsenal (Andy Rain/PA)

Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford, in particular, should have done better on occasion with United now having scored just once in six games against their top-six rivals so far this season.

But Solskjaer believes the track record of his forwards is proof they will start finding the back of the net again sooner rather than later.

“You look at the games we played Arsenal, Chelsea, (Manchester) City, Liverpool, we defended well and don’t really concede too many chances,” he said.

“That is a foundation to play from, we need to take our chances, we know we have players to do that, we haven’t done it (lately) – but they’ve scored so many goals throughout their careers.

“I felt we dominated and controlled and played well in the first half, in a strange way when the game went more 50/50 and we had spells each, we created two massive chances and did some good play.”

While Solskjaer may look at the game as a missed opportunity, his United side have now gone a club-record 18 successive league away games without defeat – their last coming at Liverpool over a year ago.

“That is a great achievement by these players,” he added.

“The group is working hard, they prepare well and it just shows haw far we have come as well, 18 games is a long, long run and long may it continue.

“We don’t think about the title race or the title now we are in January, we are just focusing on getting back on the road.

“The disappointment on Wednesday was big, today gives us more belief again – the reaction and the approach to the game was good.”

The result also saw Arsenal extend their unbeaten run in the league to seven as Mikel Arteta continues to turn the tide following a poor start to the season.

They went toe-to-toe with United despite missing arguably three of their best players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (centre) saw his side extend their unbeaten run
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (centre) saw his side extend their unbeaten run (Andy Rain/PA)

“I thought it was a fair result,” Arteta said.

“Both managers probably think we should have on it, it was a big game and we played face to face against each other.

“Three of our best players were out and that probably has an impact but I’m really happy with the players today, in the second half we were so dominant and created some good chances to win it.”

While Saka and Tierney missed out as precautions over slight knocks, Aubameyang missed his third game in a row after leaving Arsenal’s Covid secure bubble due to his mother suffering from health issues.

Arsenal were again without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal were again without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Michael Regan/PA)

It remains to be seen if he will return in time for the trip to Wolves on Tuesday night as Arteta revealed the situation is being discussed with the Government.

Asked when Aubameyang could return, the Spaniard replied: “I don’t know.

“We are working with the Premier League and the Government about it.

“We have to follow the rules and protocols and the protocols say he can’t be involved right now and we have to respect that.”