Image source: Michael Regan / Getty Images
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sent a warning ahead of EFL Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City.
The two teams are set to face each other on Wednesday evening, while ahead of the game, the Red Devils boss has revealed they are prepared for a new counter-attacking approach Pep Guardiola used against Chelsea last weekend.
“You have two teams who want to get to the final,” United manager said. “We’ve had four days now after Villa, so hopefully we’ve got more fresh legs. It’s a difficult season but I think we’ll benefit from the rotations made, that’s going to be important this season, having fresh legs.
“You could see with City against Chelsea, the freshness and sharpness and intensity they played with after the break they had – it showed. That was a quality game and physically one of the more intense games there has been in the league this season and I don’t think there’s any surprise there because they had a few extra days to prepare for that one.
“Two teams that want to go through, I think the last game showed two teams with respect for each other. They were not as much possession-based against Chelsea, they were more counter-attacking. They’ve got quick players on the break so we’ve got to be aware of that as well as their possession game.
“I’ve seen progress,” Solskjaer said of United’s derby performances on his watch. “Sometimes the results don’t show the whole picture of the game, some of our counter-attacking goals in the wins we’ve had have been brilliant. In the league away when we won [in December 2019], we could have scored four or five in a 10 or 15-minute period. A few counter-attacks there were out of this world but we had less control of the ball and defended fantastically.
“I think the last game was more or less 50-50 in possession, maybe a more cagey game from both teams but still I felt that was a progression having stayed more in the game. You never know what kind of system he’s going to come up with but you know you’ve got to defend really well against Man City.
“It’s hard to keep the ball in their half, they find a way of overloading, so you’ve got to be brave, compact, trust your players. When we have the ball we have to be able to keep it, play out of their press because they’re one of the quickest to put the counter pressure on and win the ball high up. So it’s a balance. We’ve found that balance.
“We didn’t have the X-factor last game, maybe because they were a little bit more cagey and set up to counter-attack more as well. They’ve been some fascinating games and I feel we’ve got closer and closer and results sometimes you can’t control.”
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