Ole Gunnar Solskjær is adamant Manchester United have “no excuses” not to perform against Manchester City in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final given his side’s impressive form.
United are level on 33 points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand, Friday’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa taking their unbeaten run in the competition to 10.
United host City in the single-leg semi-final, having been eliminated by Pep Guardiola’s team at the same stage a year ago. After also being knocked out in last season’s FA Cup and Europa League semi-finals, Solskjær was asked the importance of finally reaching a final at the fourth attempt.
“We are confident,” the manager said. “We’re going into the game in good form so there’s no excuses. The next game is always important but of course the semi-final is a chance to get to a final and get your hands on a trophy and for this team it would be a very big step.
“We’ve developed a lot in the 12 months since the last semi-final in the Carabao Cup. But it’s not just learning to win semis, we’ve also earned the right to feel we can go all the way with our performances. You play football to win trophies, to get your hands on a trophy, even though when you win that trophy you just move on to the next one. But it gives you hunger to get more. The squad is focused, we’re ready to give it a go and I think we’ve prepared well for this game.”
Solskjær believes United will benefit from extra recovery time. “We’ve had four days now after Villa so hopefully we’ve got more fresh legs,” he said. “You could see with City against Chelsea [their 3-1 win, on Sunday]: the freshness and sharpness and intensity they played with after the break they had [since Boxing Day], 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.”