Solskjaer dismisses talk of Man Utd slump ahead of derby

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - March 3, 2021 Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts Pool via REUTERS/Mike Hewitt

(Reuters) - Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday brushed off suggestions his team's form had dipped after three goalless draws in all competitions and backed them to regain their spark in Sunday's Premier League derby against Manchester City.

United were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Sociedad in their Europa League last-32 second-leg clash last month before drawing blanks in league draws with Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

"We've had a week without scoring... it's not like we had six weeks with no form. We beat Sociedad 4-0 (in the first leg), Southampton 9-0," Solskjaer told reporters.

"It's also the opposition. I'm not buying into the narrative that we've had a dip in form. Three 0-0's isn't really us but we have lacked a bit of spark... We've not been clinical enough but they've been tight games and it's a chance to put that right.

"In the Premier League when opponents don't make mistakes you've got to earn it. We lacked that, but then we are still unbeaten (away). Three-four weeks ago the narrative was we couldn't defend, now it is that we can't score."

Solskjaer said his focus was on the match against City - who are on a run of 21 wins in all competitions and have a 14-point lead over second-placed United - and not where his team will eventually finish.

"We have to be the best possible United and try to improve on last season... We have to challenge ourselves. They're ahead of us by a far distance, so it's a test," Solskjaer said.

"There are still 11 league games to go. I've said lets get to March and April before we talk about the title race."

Dean Henderson will be in goal again with first-choice David de Gea back in Spain following the birth of his child.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru)

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