Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warns Manchester United must stop Jack Grealish from shining on his first Old Trafford appearance since summer move collapsed… as he reminds his players of 7-2 thrashing Aston Villa handed out to title rivals Liverpool
- Manchester United host Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Friday evening
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side can move level on points with leaders Liverpool
- But Solskjaer has warned his players of the threat posed by Jack Grealish
- United held talks with Villa over Grealish in the summer but didn’t pay £100m
- Grealish has since excelled for both Villa and England in first half of the season
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United to watch out for Jack Grealish as they face the Aston Villa star for the first time since his move to Old Trafford fell through.
United held talks with Villa over Grealish but eventually refused to pay the £100million transfer fee due to the financial impact of the pandemic having already spent £40m on Donny van de Beek.
Grealish signed a new five-year deal at Villa instead and has been instrumental in an excellent start to the season that brought a sensational 7-2 win over champions Liverpool.
Jack Grealish celebrates scoring Aston Villa’s seventh goal in their 7-2 rout of Liverpool
Solskjaer has warned his Manchester United players of the dangers Grealish could pose them
United enter the Villa game on a high after Marcus Rashford scored late on against Wolves
Dean Smith’s side arrive at Old Trafford in fifth place and with Grealish now an established England international having made his senior debut in September.
United still maintain an interest in Grealish and know what the 25-year-old Villa skipper can do after he beat David de Gea with a stunning effort in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.
‘I don’t want to say too much about other teams’ players but of course he’s a player we know we have to look for,’ said Solskjaer.
‘He’s a player for Aston Villa and England who has only improved. The goal he scored last season was a brilliant goal and we’ve faced him enough times to know it’s going to be a difficult game.’
Jack Grealish celebrates with a knee slide and a stare into the Stretford End after scoring a stunning goal in Aston Villa’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford last season
Grealish cut inside Andreas Pereira and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner
Solskjaer paid tribute to the job Smith has done in transforming Villa from relegation candidates to a team competing for a top-six place.
‘They have been brilliant,’ he added. ‘I have to say Dean Smith has done a fantastic job. We played them pre-season and they beat us then in the one game we had before the league started.
‘We know all about how tough this is going to be. They’ve got individual players that are physically strong, and defensively they have been one of the better teams in the league.
The 25-year-old’s form has been brilliant since he signed a new five-year deal in September
United enter the new year sitting just three points behind leaders Liverpool with a game spare
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
January 1 Aston Villa (H)
January 6 Manchester City (H)
Carabao Cup semi-final
January 9 Watford (H)
FA Cup third round
January 17 Liverpool (A)
January 20 Fulham (A)
‘When you beat Liverpool 7-2, it’s not just defending. It’s counter attack and quality players. That is maybe the game everyone will remember from this season.’
United go into the game buoyed by Tuesday’s win over Wolves and Marcus Rashford’s injury-time strike. It was a sign that Solskjaer’s side are more capable of meeting his demand for more late goals.
‘The belief is there more that we don’t have to press the panic button and the discipline is there to play in a certain way,’ he said.
‘We’re getting more and more used to the way we want to play, and we know we’ve got players who can win you games in one second. One incredible pass or dribble, some skill.
‘We have to know that so many games are decided towards the end. It’s very seldom that you can blow teams away and win by half-time. Then subs will come on and make a difference, that’s happened so many times for us.’