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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Says Alexis Sanchez Will Feature Against Arsenal in FA Cup

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2019

Manchester United's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez warms up for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 19, 2019. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Alexis Sanchez will be involved against former club Arsenal on Friday.

The Red Devils and the Gunners will meet at the Emirates Stadium in the most high-profile fixture in the fourth round of the FA Cup. It will also be the first time Sanchez has returned to his former home since making the move to Old Trafford in January 2018.

Since joining United, the Chile international has struggled with form and fitness. Sanchez has most recently been suffering from a hamstring issue, but Solskjaer confirmed to MUTV that he will feature against Arsenal and backed Sanchez to thrive in a potentially hostile environment (h/t The Independent).

"He'll be involved," said the United boss. "I think he'll love it if the crowd turn against him. As a player, pride kicks in and you think 'I'll show all of you.' He's been fantastic in training, his attitude has been spot on so hopefully he'll enjoy the game."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Interim Manager of Manchester United celebrates victory after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on January 13, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (P
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Sanchez joined the Gunners in the summer of 2014 and was a huge success during his time working under Arsene Wenger.

The former Barcelona and Udinese man won the FA Cup twice with the Gunners and often set the tone for the team in attack. Whether operating through the middle or from a wide position, he was exceptional, regularly chipping in with goals and assists:

Squawka Football @Squawka

ON THIS TRANSFER DAY: In 2014, Alexis Sánchez joined Arsenal for £35m. 🔴 165 games 🔴 80 goals 🔴 41 assists 🔴 2 major trophies https://t.co/x745rNf6gr

Sanchez allowed his contract at Arsenal to run down, though, and he joined United in a swap deal in January last year. The Gunners received Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return:

B/R Football @brfootball

One year ago, @Alexis_Sanchez 🔁 @HenrikhMkh https://t.co/0mG7WMPF2L

Since making the move, it's been a grind for Sanchez. He failed to fit into the blueprint laid out by ex-United boss Jose Mourinho, and the benefit of a pre-season with his new team-mates appeared of little help this season, with his goal return paltry: 

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

One year ago today, Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez. Hit or miss? https://t.co/zt5pPzb08D

Solskjaer will hope featuring in a big game will stoke Sanchez's United career into life, as it's the sort of occasion the forward would have relished during his time at Arsenal. 

Still, there's little guarantee of him starting the clash. The Red Devils have been in excellent form since Solskjaer took over in mid-December, winning seven matches in succession, and attackers Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard have excelled.

Sanchez will be desperate to perform when he does get on the field, and if he can start to play himself back into form in 2019, he will be a huge asset for the Red Devils for the remainder of the campaign.

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