Solskjaer wants repeat of previous show against City

Anthony Martial has scored 10 goals in all competitions for Manchester United this season, second behind Marcus Rashford's 16, including the winner against Manchester City last month in the Premier League. But he is fighting to get fit for the League
Anthony Martial has scored 10 goals in all competitions for Manchester United this season, second behind Marcus Rashford's 16, including the winner against Manchester City last month in the Premier League. But he is fighting to get fit for the League Cup semi-final first leg against City today.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United already have the blueprint on how to beat Manchester City.

They meet at Old Trafford in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final today and recalling their 2-1 Premier League win at the Etihad last month, the Red Devils manager is gunning for more of the same.

At his pre-match press conference yesterday, he said: "We've got to aim for performances like that. We had two good days against Tottenham and City in a short spell. So, we know we can do that physically, but every game lives its own life.

"When you get highs like that, I'm sure we will look back on it and say, 'That's the Man United we want to see'. But we can still improve on that one."

But they have not been able to build on the successive top-flight wins over their top-four rivals, with their inconsistency leading to defeats by Watford and Arsenal since.

On the other hand, third-placed City have won seven of their last eight games in all competitions since losing to their cross-town rivals.

However, Solskjaer knows all too well form goes out of the window in a derby clash.

"Of course, they (City) are back winning games and they're confident," he said.

"(But) you go on the local adrenaline and the atmosphere - that's going to be important.

"And on any given day, any given game can change within a moment, with a referee's decision, some luck, an injury or a red card."

This is the first time the Manchester clubs are facing each other over a two-legged tie since meeting at the same stage of the competition 10 years ago.

United, then led by Alex Ferguson, prevailed 4-3 on aggregate and they went on to lift the Cup, beating Aston Villa 2-1 in the final.

A maiden trophy would certainly help Solskjaer's cause as he remains under pressure after a mixed campaign, but with the second leg to come on Jan 29, he is not thinking about Wembley as "it's (only) half-time".

"Well, there are two games so we have to know that when this game is finished," he added. "You've still got to go to the Etihad and finish the job off, if we do well tomorrow.

"It's a two-game tie, but we just focus on this one now because it's still three weeks until the next one."

The Norwegian also revealed he will give Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, who all missed their goal-less FA Cup third-round tie at Wolves over the weekend, as well as Harry Maguire until the last minute to prove their fitness for City.

Regardless, Solskjaer is expected to field his strongest possible first XI against Pep Guardiola's men and the Spaniard has prepared his team to deal with a side set up to counter-attack, even though they will still "do our game".

"It will be quite similar (to last month)," he said yesterday. "I have the feeling they are going to run, one, two or three times, or as many times as possible (on the break), and we have to reduce the mistakes in the build-up. We have to be prepared for that.

"(But) I am not going to prepare our game just thinking, 'Don't let them run.' We have to go there and try to score a goal, play our game and try to get a good result from there."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAN UNITED V MAN CITY

Singtel TV Ch111 & StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 3.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline 'Solskjaer wants repeat of previous show against City'. Print Edition | Subscribe