Manchester United a big danger: Arsenal manager Unai Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery revealed the team were sad that a third Gunner had been ruled out for the season before claiming that non-playing appointments were "not my issue".
Arsenal manager Unai Emery revealed the team were sad that a third Gunner had been ruled out for the season before claiming that non-playing appointments were "not my issue". PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss believes Red Devils' new attacking play is a big test as Solskjaer relishes a fierce rivalry

LONDON • Arsenal manager Unai Emery has praised the work of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his short time at Manchester United, admitting the Red Devils are now a "very dangerous" opponent for any team.

Since taking over from Jose Mourinho, Solskjaer has overseen seven successive wins in all competitions, and his attacking approach has won over a dressing room that grew tired of his sacked predecessor's spiky personality and dour tactics.

The Gunners will host United in the fourth round of the FA Cup today and Emery is expecting "a very big test" after being impressed by their turnaround.

He told reporters: "It's a different team. It's the same players but they're playing with a big performance now. I watched their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence."

His preparations included a team-building paintball trip earlier in the week, but it has been a difficult few days for the club, both on and off the pitch.

It was announced on Monday that head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will leave next month, having been in the job for only a year.

A day later, defender Hector Bellerin learnt he could miss up to nine months after suffering ruptured knee ligaments in the 2-0 win over Chelsea last Saturday.

Emery revealed the team were sad that a third Gunner had been ruled out for the season before claiming that non-playing appointments were "not my issue".

He added: "This year is very difficult for big injuries like Hector, Rob Holding and (Danny) Welbeck. But football is like that.

BIG TRANSFORMATION

It's a different team. It's the same players but they're playing with a big performance now. I watched their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence.

UNAI EMERY, Arsenal manager, on how Manchester United have changed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

BIG CLASH

That's the one fierce rivalry of my years. They won the double, we won the treble. The games were just fantastic.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, Manchester United interim manager, reminiscing about the tough Arsenal games he experienced as a player.

"We need to treat these injuries like a normality in football, but we are very sad."

Asked if it was important to find a swift replacement for Mislintat, he said: "Maybe if you do this recruitment very quickly, you can make a mistake. It's better to do without that, being calm and also finding the best possible person to do this job like we want."

However, he gave a glowing endorsement of Monchi, the Roma director of football who has been linked to the vacant post.

The pair worked together at Spanish club Sevilla and Emery hinted he was eager to renew the "good relationship" with his fellow Spaniard who was "a good person and a good professional".

But he knows better than to let these matters distract him against a man eager to get one over United's "closest rivals" in his playing days.

Solskjaer, reminiscing about the period when Arsenal were United's main competitors from 1997-2005, said: "That's the one fierce rivalry of my years. They won the double, we won the treble. The games were just fantastic."

Although United will rotate their side for the Cup game, the players that are standing in still "have the quality to play". He added: "We have a very good and talented squad. There will be one or two changes definitely."

One player who is eager to play is Alexis Sanchez, who is returning to London for the first time since his bitter exit last January. The Chile forward is expected to get a frosty reception but Solskjaer is unperturbed by the likely boos.

Said the Norwegian: "I think he'll love it if the crowd turn against him. As a player, pride kicks in and you think, 'I'll show all of you.'

"He's been fantastic in training, his attitude has been spot on so, hopefully, he'll enjoy the game."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'United a big danger: Emery'. Print Edition | Subscribe