Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Says Alexis Sanchez 'Can Only Improve' After Arsenal Win

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Alexis Sanchez "can only improve" after his fine performance against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Friday.

The Chilean has endured a torrid time at Old Trafford since his switch to the club in January 2018, but he was on the scoresheet against his old side in the fourth-round clash, netting the opening goal in a 3-1 win.

Solskjaer said after the game that he expects Sanchez to kick on after one of his best games in a United shirt, per Ron Walker of Sky Sports:

"It wasn't like Alexis had an open goal, it was a great finish. Every player, the more confident you get, the more you want to get on the pitch and train and work on yourself and you trust yourself.

"He has been injured lately so it was great to see him get 65-70 minutes tonight, and he can only improve, and I think he knows that himself."

The FA Cup Twitter account shared footage of the opening goal:

Squawka Football provided the numbers behind Sanchez's performance against Arsenal:

The match was the first time Sanchez had started against Premier League opposition since Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford, and operating with freedom alongside Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard suited the Chile international.

What made the goal sweeter for Sanchez was the fact that it came against his former club. The United No. 7 was jeered by the Emirates Stadium crowd throughout the match. 

There will be hope among the Red Devils fanbase that a performance like this can kickstart his United career. His displays have been laboured when he's previously taken the field for United, and the edge that made him such a force at Arsenal has been absent.

Opta's Duncan Alexander put the goalscoring issues of the attacker into context:

While the trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Lingard appear to be Solskjaer's preferred front line, there will be chances for Sanchez in 2019. Not only have United progressed in the FA Cup, but they also remain in the UEFA Champions League and in a battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

After a rotten start to the campaign, United supporters are starting to believe this team is capable of salvaging something from 2018-19, with eight wins in a row secured. Sanchez may well have a similar mindset.

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