Solskjaer: Top-four race down to the wire

OLE Gunnar Solskjaer believes the top-four battle will go down to the wire after Arsenal beat Manchester United to seize the initiative in the race for Champions League qualification.

United hit the woodwork twice at the Emirates but paid the price for failing to take their chances as Granit Xhaka’s swerving strike and a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty sealed a 2-0 win for the Gunners – the first league defeat of Solskjaer’s interim tenure.

Arsenal climbed up to fourth at United’s expense, leaving Solskjaer’s side two points behind in fifth and three behind third-placed Tottenham.

“It’s very tight,” the United boss replied, when asked to comment on the race for the top four. “I don’t think nerves come into it yet.

“Spurs lost, we lost, and Chelsea drew so it’s going to go down to the wire, the last few games.

“We’ve given ourselves a great chance to be in that fight, we’re two points behind fourth, three behind third which is a great position to be in.”

Defeat at the Emirates brought Solskjaer’s 12-game unbeaten start in the Premier League at United to an end and also ended his nine-game winning streak away from home in all competitions.

United’s cause was hampered by David de Gea’s uncharacteristic misreading of Xhaka’s opening goal, while Solskjaer believes his side’s positive attacking performance was undone by Arsenal’s soft penalty.

He added: “David [de Gea] is disappointed every time he concedes a goal. The ball moves so strange and it looks like it goes to David’s left and it changed direction, but in the first 15, 20 minutes we were too slow and never put them under pressure.

“It’s not very often you go to Arsenal and create four or five big chances that we did. They never had one really; they had a strike and a penalty – not too many chances.

“We created so many more chances today than when we beat them in the FA Cup. Sometimes it happens, we hit the woodwork twice and had five very big chances ourselves.

“We just had to go for it towards the end, but we were not really at it and it is one of those days where you have to dust yourselves down from.

“The referee will be disappointed when he sees it as I don’t think it is a penalty. But that’s the decision the referee made.

“I don’t think there is enough contact to warrant a penalty. I don’t think it’s a dive, Fred apparently is very, very strong.” – Sky SportsCAPTION:

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