- Man United's Midas! Lukaku and Sanchez show Solskjaer can do no wrong right now08:57 | 26/01/2019
The Norwegian’s winning run continued with a 3-1 FA Cup win at Arsenal that owed much to a pair of players who hadn’t started many games of late.
Photo: Daniel Leal – Olivas
Everything Ole Gunnar Solskjaer touches right now seems to turn to gold.
His eighth win in eight games as Manchester United’s caretaker manager was one of the biggest examples yet of just how big an impact the Norwegian has had on the club since Jose Mourinho was sacked in December.
The Portuguese couldn’t even seem to keep the players he was choosing week after week happy, and yet the roles played by Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in Friday’s 3-1 FA Cup win at Arsenal proved that Solskjaer’s ability to get the best out of his charges runs far deeper than the regular first XI.
The pair had both been victims of timing in many ways, with the former striker having returned as interim manager at a time when Lukaku was absent due to a family issue and Sanchez was nursing a hamstring injury.
In their mutual absence, the form of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard had been such that the high-profile duo were demoted to bystanders for much of the new boss’ opening weeks.
Having been given their chance to impress on Friday as Martial and Rashford were rested for the fourth-round clash at the Emirates, both Lukaku and Sanchez left a mark.
It was somewhat of a surprise to see Lukaku lined up on the right-hand side of attack as Lingard was positioned more centrally but, after a slow start, the shift worked.
While they had flattered to deceive in the opening half an hour, Lukaku and Sanchez combined in the most devastating of ways to put United in the box seat. The Belgian’s excellent disguised pass put Sanchez in space, and the former Arsenal man held his nerve to round Petr Cech and fire home from a difficult angle.
Within two minutes Lukaku had teed up another for Jesse Lingard, running on to a delicious slide-rule pass by Luke Shaw to square for Lingard, who finished with aplomb.
There was always likely to be a response from Arsenal, and they got back in the game shortly before half-time through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s tap-in, after Aaron Ramsey’s quick footwork had exploited space on United’s right when the visitors failed to react to Ashley Young being pulled out of position.
However, while Arsenal kept probing for much of the second half they never looked destined to equalise, and United were always dangerous on the counter.
Solskjaer got both the nature and timing of his double-substitution spot on, with Lukaku and Sanchez replaced by Rashford and Martial just when they needed something different in the final third.
The result was a third goal, with Martial mopping up clinically after Paul Pogba’s drive had been parried away by Cech.
It was so typically Manchester United in many ways, and for the club’s fans it is superbly refreshing to see their side playing in the style to which they had become accustomed for so many years.
Solskjaer has got everyone contributing too. He recently likened his half-dozen options for three forward roles to when he was one of four strikers Sir Alex Ferguson rotated between two starting positions, with Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham also getting plenty of game time.
Eight wins, FA Cup progression, a whole squad thriving… Is there anything Man United’s very own King Midas can’t do right now?
Source – Goal.com
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