Emery says Manchester United were right to sack Mourinho
‘I was not surprised because this team has big players,’ says Arsenal manager
Arsenal manager Unai Emery says Manchester United were jusitified in their sacking of José Mourinho. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
FA Cup fourth round: Arsenal v Manchester United
Kick off: 7.55pm. Venue: Emirates Stadium. On TV: BBC One
Unai Emery believes Manchester United’s decision to sack José Mourinho in December was completely justified given their low points tally and lack of competitive edge.
According to the Arsenal manager, anyone who falls below expected standards has to accept they are in the firing line. “This is normal,” Emery said. “I was not surprised because this team has big players and can think about winning the Premier League. They lost a lot of points.”
Arsenal tonight face a United side who have won seven games in succession since Ole Gunnar Solskjær replaced Mourinho. United have made up a lot of ground in the Premier League and the two clubs are locked on 44 points, with Arsenal narrowly ahead on goal difference in the chase for a top-four finish.
Emery is wary of how a revitalised United pose a big threat in the FA Cup tie at the Emirates. “They are very dangerous and in a good moment,” he said. “I am going to find the best first XI, because against Manchester United, we will need the best performance and quality.”
There will be at least one forced change with Héctor Bellerín joining the long-term injury list after suffering a cruciate injury against Chelsea last weekend. Petr Cech will be hoping for a return to the team in goal. The Mesut Özil question rumbles on.
The potential for a rendezvous with Alexis Sánchez adds spice. The striker has been backed by Solskjær to respond in a positive way if given a feisty welcome on his first return to the Emirates since leaving Arsenal for United last January.
Despite a largely underwhelming year at Old Trafford, Emery admires Sánchez, having attempted to sign him while in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.
Even if the home crowd will not be too pleased to clap eyes on Sánchez, Emery is thinking only about how to quell the varied attacking threats United carry. “I respect him. In my preparations, every player is playing against the best player from Manchester United and one is Alexis Sánchez.” The player who was prolific at Arsenal has scored only once this season.
United have looked liberated under Solskjær, with Marcus Rashford in confident form leading the line.