The key quotes from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's press conference ahead of Aston Villa fixture
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

As Manchester United prepare to face Aston Villa on New Year's Day, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has addressed the media. 

United come into this fixture three points off the top with a game in hand. 

Solskjaer recognises Villa's impressive start to the season

Considering Dean Smith's side could be one point off the top of the Premier League table with wins in their two games in hand, they have improved drastically since their relegation escape last season. 

Solskjaer is aware of the superb victory against Liverpool and warns his players about the physical presence Villa will bring: "They've been brilliant, I have to say Dean Smith has done a fantastic job. We played them pre-season, they beat us then.

"We know how tough this is going to be, they have individual players and they're physical and strong. Defensively, they've really been one of the better teams in the league. And when you beat Liverpool 7-2, you know it's not just defending it is counter-attacking and quality players. That was maybe the game that everyone will remember this season," Solskjaer said. 

The United boss has also said his side are conscious of the threat that Jack Grealish can provide: "He is a player of Aston Villa and England and has only improved, I don't want to say too much about other teams' players but of course he is a player that we need to look out for. The goal he scored last season was a brilliant goal and we've faced him enough times to know that it's going to be a difficult game."

Squad depth is the key to a successful season

Towards the end of last season, Solskjaer was crying out for squad depth as players were forced into playing excessive amounts and struggling to keep up their energy levels. In the summer, they recruited well and have now got options in and around the squad. 

"Some players you feel are more suitable for some teams. But of course, you do plan ahead. I remember the times where you feel you should be certain to play and are then left out. That's part of being at Man United, we have top players everywhere and we know that throughout the season if you are going to win something you have to contribute. I think that's just the way it's going to be, the players will have to be angry with me until the next time they play because believe you me they are not happy when I tell them they're starting on the bench."

Solskjaer has also praised his squad for their development mentally over the last two years: "Yep, definitely [stronger individuals mentally]. One, they're two years older than when I came. Two, some of them have really strong personalities that we have brought in and they've really been a good influence. And I think we have competition for places, which means you cannot go round and think that you can just fake your way through being part of this team.

"You only deserve to be in a team that you have contributed to. I think everyone's realised they are privileged to be part of Man United, such a fantastic club with such a fantastic history. When you're here you enjoy it as much as you can and maybe you'll experience some fantastic times," Solskjaer said. 

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