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Solskjaer positive in defeat; makes prediction for top four battle

Arsenal were able to hold Man United scoreless and got a goal each from Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they earned a 2-0 win.

LONDON -- Manchester United’s luck under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally ran out on Sunday, as the Red Devils lost 2-0 at Arsenal in a game they could have easily won.

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They had to lose at some point, and doing so in a week where they had beaten Paris Saint-Germain against all the odds to the reach the last eight of the UEFA Champions League softened the blow.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Solskjaer was extremely positive with the display as his side hit the woodwork twice, forced Bernd Leno into fine saves and conceded a “soft” penalty kick in the defeat at the Emirates Stadium.

“You have to be disappointed with the result, but the performance was a good one,” Solskjaer said. “We created miles more chances today compared to the cup game when we played them. The first goal always determines the way the game will go. Maybe after they scored the first goal they let us have the ball more than they wanted to. We created chances, big chances, hit the woodwork twice, Leno played well. In terms of what you can control, as in our own performance, we can’t be too disappointed.”

Solskjaer pointed to the “four or five big chances” United had and Arsenal not really creating chances, as his injury-hit side seemed to run out of steam after a gruelling period in the FA Cup, league and Europe. All things considered, United’s caretaker boss has steered them into a very good position.

With United sitting in fifth in the table, two points off Arsenal in fourth and three points off third-place Tottenham, the Red Devils are embroiled in a massive battle for Champions League qualification with Chelsea also lurking in sixth with a game in hand.

How does Solskjaer think the top four battle will play out in the final eight games of the season?

“I don’t think nerves go into it yet,” Solskjaer said. “Spurs lose, we lose, Chelsea draw. It is going to be down to the wire. Down to the last few games. Definitely. We’ve given ourselves a great chance to be in that fight. Two points behind fourth, three points behind third. A good position to be in.”

Even in defeat, Solskjaer was as positive as he always is. He is right. United’s run of 10 wins, two draws and one defeat in his first 13 PL games in charge has put them in a sensational position to finish in the top four.

On another day Romelu Lukaku would have buried his chances, Leno would have failed to save United’s shots and David de Gea would have done better on Granit Xhaka’s opening goal.

Solskjaer is keeping the positive vibes as long as he can, and it will now be intriguing to see how United respond in their FA Cup quarterfinal at Wolves next weekend.

Ole is at the wheel and is still guiding United brilliantly.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports