Exclusive Q and A Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of Man Utd visit to Villa Park


Villa seem to be playing better than their results suggest. Using that very controversial metric of expected goals and expected points, Villa are doing worse than they should be doing. Does that show that they’re a better side than perhaps some might think?
“Football is a game of small margins and maybe they’ve been a bit unlucky. They do have some quality players, they’re a very quick counterattacking team, physical and very good at set-plays, so of course we know we’ve got to play well and win the ball back quickly. Any game in the Premier League you need to earn the right to win and we’ll do that by turning up on the day.”

They played well last time out against Liverpool and gave them a good run. They can acquit themselves well against any team in this division, can’t they?
“I don’t think any team will go into any game in the Premier League thinking this is an easy ride. We saw that against Bournemouth ourselves at Old Trafford. A team that are supposedly struggling came here with loads of belief and courage and they were brave, but thankfully we had some lads with some fantastic finishes. Anthony’s goal was top class, Mason’s two were very, very good goals, Bruno’s free-kick was great and then Marcus got one with the penalty. It’s not like you can just turn up and score five goals, you have to earn it both with your attitude and your quality.”

They’ve got some very good players including the likes of Jack Grealish – how important is he for them?
“I think any team has a couple of players who they look to for creating chances, he’s one of them so we need to watch out for him. They have two quick wingers and a very strong, quick striker so it’s going to be a game in which we have to focus on our job, do well and try to get a performance that deserves a win.”

Finally, Villa Park is a ground which has given us so many wonderful memories. What are yours?
“I’ve had some great memories and great games there. I scored against Peter Schmeichel [when he was at Villa] which was a nice one! [Smiles] I also had a headed goal around Christmas time in the last five minutes I think, it was a cross from Becks. But of course the ’99 FA Cup semi-final is a big, big highlight. It’s a proper football ground and I really enjoyed playing there.”

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