Football

Time to stand up and be counted: Harry Maguire

Man United want to bounce back from shock Sheffield United defeat against Arsenal

Harry Maguire has called on Manchester United to “stand up and be counted” after their shock 2-1 defeat by Sheffield United on Thursday morning (Jan 28, Singapore time) hurt their English Premier League title chances.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side blew their chance to leapfrog Manchester City at the top of the table against opponents who had won just a single league match all season.

If Pep Guardiola’s team win their game in hand, they will be four points clear of United, who have not won the EPL since 2013.

Maguire cancelled out Kean Bryan’s opener with a powerful header in the second half but Oliver Burke scored the winner for the visitors after United failed to clear their lines.

The United captain said the club must react quickly.

“The boys are devastated, if I’m honest,” he told club media. “It’s a really quiet dressing room.

“The boys are so disappointed. We didn’t expect it, we came into the game confident. We’ve got to pick ourselves up.”

United’s defeat ended a 13-match unbeaten run in the league since they lost to Arsenal at Old Trafford on Nov 1.

Mikel Arteta’s improved side are their next opponents, this weekend.

“It’s all good and easy when you’re winning football matches and you’re playing well, but now it’s time to stand up and be counted,” said Maguire.

“When you get kicked down, it’s how quickly you bounce back and Saturday’s a big one and we’ve got to get three points.”

Arsenal are not sure if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be ready to feature against United after the striker missed two games due to his mother’s illness, Arteta said on Thursday.

Aubameyang pulled out of Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Southampton last weekend and was also absent from their 3-1 league win over the same opponents on Wednesday morning.

Arteta was asked about the Gabon forward’s availability after the 31-year-old thanked Arsenal for their support and had said he would return home ahead of the United game.

“I don’t know. I spoke with him yesterday. Things are looking better at the moment but we’re going to have to wait and see,” Arteta told a news conference.

“He’s our captain and one of the most important players. We are doing everything we can to have him as quickly as possible.

“But understanding that he’s been through difficult days that he had to support his family. We were here to support him as well with the time that he needed to get that sorted.” 

Arsenal on Wednesday signed Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season and Arteta also suggested the Norwegian may need more time to build his fitness.

“We believe he’s got some special qualities that we need that we have been missing. Now we have to give him a little bit of time,” Arteta said.

“He hasn’t played that many minutes in Madrid, but he’s been training hard. He looks so excited, as we are, to have another big talent in our club.

“He’s a specialist to play in the pockets. To be in the No.8 or 10 positions. He can play off the sides... He has the capacity to create chances and score goals.” – AFP, REUTERS

Harry MaguireManchester UnitedSheffield Unitedarsenal