English Premiership

Solskjaer wary of Chelsea challenge in battle for top four

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Getty Images)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the race for the Premier League top four will go down to the wire as Manchester United prepare to face Thomas Tuchel's revitalised Chelsea on Sunday.

United were knocked off top spot by Manchester City on 26 January and a run of just two wins in six top-flight matches means they are now 10 points behind their rivals.

Second-placed United head to the Etihad Stadium for a Manchester derby clash on 7 March but before then they have back-to-back fixtures away to London clubs, with Sunday's match against Chelsea followed by Wednesday's game with Crystal Palace.

"We've got Chelsea just behind us, we've got City away in front of us," said Solskjaer. "Of course we can't let them run further away if we have ambitions of catching them and we can't give Chelsea too much hope to catch us either."

Solskjaer believes United are over their recent wobble ahead of the match at Stamford Bridge, where Tuchel has made an impressive impact since succeeding Frank Lampard last month.

The Blues have yet to lose under the German and can halve the six-point gap to United on Sunday as the race for Champions League qualification spots heats up.

"You can see the results, you can see the stats, the possession they've had, they keep teams away from their own goal, keep the possession," Solskjaer said.

"He's (Tuchel) done really well. It's never easy coming into a season halfway through so he must be pleased as well. Hopefully we can stop that run. That's my job now."

The Norwegian predicted a tense battle for Champions League places with a third of the season still to go.

City, United, Leicester and West Ham are currently in the top four but a clutch of teams, including Chelsea and champions Liverpool, harbour ambitions of dislodging them.

"I don't think the positions will be decided early," said former United striker Solskjaer. "With this season as well, it's unpredictable.

"We've seen teams going through bad phases then a run and then who knows what's going to happen with injuries, with how players react to the circumstances."

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Fixtures
Mon 19 Apr 21 21:00 PM (SAST)
Leeds United
Liverpool
Elland Road
Tue 20 Apr 21 21:00 PM (SAST)
Chelsea
Brighton & Hove Albion
Stamford Bridge
Wed 21 Apr 21 19:00 PM (SAST)
Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Results
Sun 18 Apr 21
Manchester United 3
Burnley 1
Sun 18 Apr 21
Arsenal 1
Fulham 1
Sat 17 Apr 21
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Sheffield United 0
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
1. Manchester City
32
23
74
2. Manchester United
32
19
66
3. Leicester City
31
17
56
4. West Ham United
32
16
55