Football

Solskjaer hits back at Lampard's claims that VAR has favoured Man United

FA CUP SEMI-FINAL
MAN UNITED CHELSEA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at Frank Lampard after his Chelsea counterpart suggested the video assistant referees (VAR) have favoured United his season.

Lampard said United benefited from contentious VAR decisions and poor on-pitch decisions, commenting on how a “clear and obvious decision” went their way on Thursday when Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha was fouled but no penalty was awarded.

Ahead of Monday morning's (July 20, Singapore time) FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, Solskjaer suggested United have also been unlucky with decisions.

“I can sit here for hours now and try to talk about this. It looks like there’s a narrative, it looks like people want to influence whoever is making the decisions,” the Norwegian told reporters on Saturday.

“I hear people talking about luck, that we’ve been lucky more than unlucky. If you look at the factual decisions – I don’t want to sound like a certain manager talking about facts – but if you’re offside, you’re offside, that’s clear.”

Solskjaer listed incidents in which he felt United were hard done by, describing how a late penalty against Tottenham Hotspur was overturned and how Southampton’s Oriol Romeu and West Ham United’s Mark Noble should have been sent off for rash tackles.

“So it’s actually me that should be complaining that we get decisions against us on the pitch by the on-pitch referee,” Solskjaer added.

“There’s a narrative there but we have to focus on our games, we let other people talk about that. I don’t want to go too much into it because I might be in trouble.

“I’m pretty relaxed on these and referees are going to be making objective decisions and are not going to be influenced by any emotion in any way.”

NO ADVANTAGE

Solskjaer had earlier claimed that Chelsea will have an unfair advantage because they have had more time to rest, a claim that had been refuted by Lampard.

Chelsea slipped up 3-0 at Sheffield United last Saturday but then beat Norwich at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, leaving five days until the last-four Wembley battle.

United drew 2-2 with Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday, then won 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Thursday.

Despite United having just three days’ preparation for the semi-final, Blues boss Lampard has dismissed the idea the Londoners have an extra edge.

“We’re in a period where we’re playing games all the time very regularly, and you become ‘play, recover, play again, recover’, and you work with the squad as it is,” he said.

“It’s an age-old question. A lot of managers, you probably dig out the times when I’ve mentioned it, but at the same time it isn’t about advantage or not.

“Sometimes, it works in your favour to be playing regularly and ticking over, so, no, I don’t see it.”

Chelsea, also battling United for a Champions League spot, must do without France’s World Cup winner N’Golo Kante at Wembley.

The former Leicester midfielder remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, leaving Jorginho in the frame to sit at the base of midfield again. As for United, left-back Luke Shaw will miss the semi-final and his replacement Brandon Williams is also doubtful after suffering a facial injury against Southampton on Monday.

Lampard admitted he expects a strong examination of Chelsea’s qualities this weekend, heaping praise on United’s in-form forward trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

“We know they are playing well, they’ve got a very, very potent front three – probably the most potent front three in the country, in terms of pure numbers anyway, in terms of goals,” said Lampard.

“And obviously (Bruno) Fernandes has made a huge difference coming in January.” – AFP, REUTERS

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