Paul Merson says: Man Utd striker Rasmus Hojlund will be a superstar

12 February 2024, 09:32 | Updated: 12 February 2024, 13:46

In his latest column, Sky Sports' Paul Merson looks back at wins for Man Utd and Arsenal on Super Sunday, and says striker Rasmus Hojlund has the potential to be a superstar at Old Trafford

'Confidence has made all the difference for Hojlund'

I like him. He's a young kid, he's 21 and playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

If there was one thing you could bottle up in football, you ask anyone, it's confidence.

He's got confidence now and football is all about confidence. He holds the ball up well and lays it off well to the wingers.

You start to get into the game a lot more and the confidence rises. Those chances keep coming and you start to take them.

In those first 10 games, when he was going without a goal, he was snatching at everything. And he's got it.

If that ball [for Hojlund's opening goal] at Villa comes in at the start of the season, he would've hit it as hard as he could. But he places it under the goalkeeper.

He's a good player, I think he will be a superstar.

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'Maguire the type of player you'd want in your team'

Harry Maguire was named player of the match for United against Villa.

It was a good performance and I'm pleased for him. He's a worker and he puts his body on the line. If I was playing, he's the type of player you'd want in your team.

However, there's a thin line between centre-backs doing well and not doing well.

Aston Villa created so many chances and if they take some of them we are having a different conversation.

Villa could have scored four and then we are talking about a poor day for that United back four. That's how quickly things can change in football.

However it was Maguire and United's day.

He's a threat in both boxes and what I like is that when he is up for a corner he tries to score and have an effect on the game. A lot of defenders just go up and go through the motions. They are only up because the manager told them to go up.

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'Forwards give confident United huge boost'

Man Utd are on a good run and have a good run of fixtures coming up, but they will have to keep winning games.

Tottenham also have good fixtures coming up as this race for the Champions League starts to get interesting.

But like with Hojlund, Man Utd are now full of confidence. Hojlund is scoring goals now, Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho are threats on the wing.

I still think their game-management is poor. There are still moments when they are giving the ball away so cheaply and making the wrong decisions, and it did catch up with them as Villa piled on some continuous pressure.

When they can learn that side of the game United will be a much better team.

They are always going to score goals with Hojlund, Rashford and Garnacho. They just need to keep things tight at the back because for me, it will be very rare if they come off pitches between now and the end of the season without goals.

'Villa have to get back to winning ways at home, and quickly'

Aston Villa played really well against Man Utd, but they still came out on the losing side. That is a little bit of worry.

Villa created so many chances. If they create that many in another game they probably get all three points.

Villa will be disappointed. You can take it when you don't play well and lose, it's just one of those things, but there is nothing worse than playing well and losing football matches.

Their last five fixtures haven't been the easiest. Everton is a hard place to go, on their day Newcastle can beat anyone, Chelsea were going to click one day and then there's United.

It's not like Villa have played four teams at the bottom. They have played decent teams and just haven't got the results.

The name of the game now for Villa is to get back on the horse, win their next game and go again. They've got to get back to winning ways quickly.

When you are winning week in, week out the players and the fans would have been turning up expecting to win with their 13th, 14th and so on victory on the trot at home.

But all of a sudden, Newcastle did a job on them. Then Chelsea wiped the floor with them and now United have won. It did get nervy at the end of the game for Villa.

They have got to get back to winning ways quickly. They are where they are in this league because of their home record and they've got to get winning again at Villa Park.

'Arsenal made West Ham surrender - they're in this title race'

Arsenal are now putting their chances away and working hard

If you want to win the Premier League, you have to bounce back [from defeats] as quickly as you can and they have done that. That is what Man City do and they have worked hard and been hard to beat.

And fair play to them, they are right in this title race.

It is just a massive result, it has done the goal difference the world of good - if this was Man City today who had won
that game 6-0, we would be waxing lyrical.

They have literally made West Ham surrender, they turned up, started well and carried it on and kept on going. A brilliant, brilliant result by Arsenal.

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'The schedule could prove crucial in title race'

We've still got a little bit to go before we get to the serious business of the run-in.

That all starts with eight games to go in my opinion.

Then we get to back to the importance of which team plays first on the weekend. It plays a huge part, in my opinion.

Arsenal had to win at West Ham just to stay where they are. It takes its toll.

We saw it a few years ago now with Spurs when they were chasing Leicester. They kept playing second. Talk to Tiger Woods about matchplay. He wants to put his ball on the green first to build the pressure on his opponent.

It makes a huge difference.

'U10s defending from West Ham'

Defending-wise from West Ham, if that happened in Under-10s football you'd be going, 'seriously?!'

Not getting tight to the Arsenal players, showing them inside on to their proper foot, it is poor.

I just think Arsenal made West Ham surrender and that is quite sad as a player as that is the one thing you do not want to do.

There is ways of losing football matches, that is a horrible way and I feel sorry for David Moyes as that is not a Moyes team out there, they have let him down today.

They work hard and the one thing you do not get done at West Ham is by set-plays, and they were poor with them against Arsenal.