Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says depth is United’s strength as they target trophies

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United have the depth and quality to challenge for silverware this season.

The Norwegian is looking to kick on in his second full season at the helm, having finished third in the Premier League last term and reached three cup semi-finals.

Sunday’s Old Trafford encounter with Arsenal is his 100th match at the wheel and United need to avoid starting the campaign with four winless home league games for the first since 1972-73.

But Wednesday’s 5-0 win against last season’s Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig will have increased confidence ahead of a match Solskjaer heads into facing a welcome selection headache.

“At the moment, we are looking like a Man United squad,” he said. “Because I’ve got opportunities, I’ve got competition for places.

“Any successful team in the modern era of football have had that option to rest players, to rotate.

“That’s probably the only way you can last in the most intense league in the world, for me, and also with Champions League involved and you want go for the trophies – so I think (our depth is our biggest strength in the title race).”

United made five alterations against in midweek and still ran out 5-0 victors, with Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba among those brought in.

Those changes underline the increase in midfield options for Solskjaer, who was full of praise for World Cup winner Pogba after impressing on his return to the starting line-up.

Manchester United v RB Leipzig – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford
Paul Pogba (left) impressed on his return to the United side in midweek (Nick Potts/PA)

“Paul can do everything on a football pitch more or less,” the United boss said. “He can play long passes, he can get in the box, he can play combinations outside the box, but he played really well, I have to say.

“He did impact the game, we love to see him when he’s driving forward and affecting the game.

“What has been the case with Paul – after being injured for so long and ill – it’s about getting the fitness back, getting the sharpness back and the fitter he is the more he can do.”

Pogba will hope to have done enough to retain his starting role against Arsenal, who have not won a league match at Old Trafford since 2006.

Soccer – FA Barclays Premiership – Manchester United v Arsenal – Old Trafford
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson led Arsenal and United, respectively, when they were title rivals (Nick Potts/PA)

The fierce rivalry between United and the Gunners had started n to peter out by then, but Solskjaer remembers the title tussles they enjoyed down the years.

“When I played it was between us and Arsenal to win the league, so that was a very fierce rivalry,” he said.

“There’s all sorts of stories about what’s been happening. The passion, the excitement, the importance of those games.

“Of course we knew if we beat Arsenal and took six points from them that would’ be us winning the league more or less, and vice versa.

Man Utd v Arsenal
Solskjaer has scored against Arsenal as a United player (John Giles/PA)

“There’s been some unbelievable games and some fond memories, some bad memories.

“Of course now there’s still the rivalry, there’s still the history but now we don’t think about them as our rivals or anyone as our rivals.

“We just need to put points on the board and it’s so early in the season anyway.”

Arsenal are looking to avoid losing three straight league games for the first time under Mikel Arteta, who has overseen an impressive resurgence since taking the managerial reins of a club he used to captain.

Arsenal v Leicester City – Premier League – Emirates Stadium
Solskjaer says Mikel Arteta (pictured) wants the best for Arsenal (Catherine Ivill/PA)

“I think any manager would need some time to put his principles in place,” Solskjaer said of the Spaniard, who has collected the FA Cup and Community Shield since taking charge in December 2019.

“Of course he’s already won a trophy with them and you can see what he’s doing. You can see he’s got his own ideas and that he’s also worked under a top manager before, definitely.

“When you’re at the start of your career as a manager and he can start winning already, it’s a great foundation to build from and I think they’ve really found a manager who wants the best for the club.”

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