Solskjaer says Manchester United players were affected by linesman’s flag

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt his Manchester United players were affected by the raising of an offside flag for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal but did not dispute that Arsenal deserved their equaliser.

Assistant referee Scott Ledger raised his flag when Aubameyang ran onto Bukayo Saka’s pass in the 58th minute following a mistake by Axel Tuanzebe but replays showed the striker was several yards onside and VAR awarded the goal.

That cancelled out Scott McTominay’s opener just before half-time and the game finished 1-1.

Solskjaer appeared unhappy with the goal on the touchline, but was magnanimous in his press conference later, saying: “Ashley (Young) certainly holds his hand up because he can look straight at the linesman.

Linesman xxx flags for offside
Linesman Scott Ledger flags for offside (Nick Potts/PA)

“Maybe he hesitates a little bit. He could have probably got a block in and that probably would have helped David (De Gea) but that’s no consolation for us now because it’s a perfectly good goal for them.

“He probably should have kept the flag down. He made an impact on the situation by raising the flag.”

Solskjaer was also aggrieved that United were not awarded a penalty shortly before Aubameyang’s goal for a handball by Sead Kolasinac, which was not deemed an obvious mistake by referee Kevin Friend.

“Loads of the penalty decisions now the refs, if you don’t (give) it, you can’t go back and have it,” added the Norwegian. “But it’s a work in progress. I’m for the right decisions and they definitely deserved their goal.”

It was all too obvious in the first half an hour that this was a contest between two teams at a low ebb, with the first shot not arriving until the 29th minute.

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The game improved thereafter but was lacking in quality throughout.

Solskjaer was more animated than usual on the touchline, and he said: “I thought the first 15 or 20 minutes we could have been more direct, more positive. I just wanted the boys to grasp the moment.

“Half-time just came and we didn’t come out of the blocks second half. The first 15 minutes it was almost like we gifted them the initiative. After they scored the response was fantastic. I thought we put the game to them again.”

The result left United in 10th place in the Premier League with nine points from seven games – the first time they have failed to reach double figures by this stage for 30 years.

Solskjaer remains positive there are better times ahead, though, saying: “There’s many things that we look at and many things that give me a lot of confidence.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans (Richard Sellers/PA)

“We need to learn to win these games. We know that this team is going to be improving. I thought we saw some excellent performances from Scotty, Andreas (Pereira), you can see Axel (Tuanzebe) is going to be a top, top player, so some very positive things.”

Arsenal edged back into the top four with a point that left boss Unai Emery reasonably satisfied.

He said: “We wanted to win because we were thinking it was a very good opportunity to get three points but after 90 minutes it’s a fair result for both (teams).

“That result can be a good point if we win on Sunday against Bournemouth at home. We will analyse the positive things and things to improve.

“Defensively I thought we were very competitive and offensively in some moments maybe we could do better to create more chances.”

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