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moan utd Solskjaer should have covered up the reality that United are getting lucky with spot-kicks

Solskjaer moaning hurting his team with penalty statistics stacked in United’s favour

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Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi appears to handle the ball in his battle with Mason Greenwood

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi appears to handle the ball in his battle with Mason Greenwood

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi appears to handle the ball in his battle with Mason Greenwood

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a big mistake after Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday and it could come back to haunt him.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Solskjaer rocked up on the TV moaning about his side not getting a penalty when Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle the ball in the box.

The arrogance oozing out of Solskjaer and United defender Luke Shaw in their post-match interviews was comical when you consider United have been awarded TWENTY TWO penalties over the last couple of Premier League seasons and plenty of those were controversial.

Solskjaer was not moaning when Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood or Daniel James fell over under a gust of wind in the box and managed to get penalties out of it.

We even saw Paul Pogba appearing to tell Shaw to take a dive in the box to try and get a penalty a few weeks back and that is no surprise, as the Frenchman is another player who likes to take a tumble at the first opportunity.

I know Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah goes down a little too easily at times and Tottenham’s Harry Kane is another one who goes in search of penalties at times, but it looks like it is a tactic for United to try and get penalties and it’s served them well over the last couple of seasons.

The main reason why Fernandes has scored so many goals at United is that he gets a penalty every other week, with the Portuguese midfielder scoring 17 penalties in all competition for United since he arrived a little over a year ago.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes hands with Mason Mount of Chelsea

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes hands with Mason Mount of Chelsea

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes hands with Mason Mount of Chelsea

It’s a crazy statistic and we have all been talking about it all season already, so Solskjaer should have kept his mouth shut and tried to cover up the reality that his side are getting lucky with spot-kicks.

This issue has been occurring at both ends of the field, as we have seen United defender Harry Maguire getting away with some ridiculous challenges that should have resulted in penalties to the opposition, but VAR wasn’t even checked.

Amazingly, Maguire then came out last month and claimed United were not getting a fair rub of the green with penalties and the arrogance of the attitude that prevails in that club was highlighted when Solskjaer came out to question these penally calls going against his side last weekend.

The incident in Sunday’s game may well have been a penalty, but there was also some doubt over whether the contact with Hudson-Odoi’s hand was accidental.

It was probably a 60/40 call in favour of United getting a penalty, but this one went against them and Solskjaer should have said nothing and moved on.

Instead, he suggested comments from rival managers had influenced some referees’ decisions and if that is the case, then Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has done a good job.

Klopp was one of the first to publicly question this increasingly lengthy list of United penalties and the stats since then suggest the referees have woken up to the issue now.

Before Klopp’s comments at the start of January, United were getting around 0.36 penalties-per-game, which was comfortably the biggest number of any Premier League team.

Since Klopp, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho and plenty more started questioning why they were getting so many spot-kicks, that number has gone down to 0.20 and I reckon it’s because match officials don’t want to be taken for a ride by them.

Take some of those dodgy penalties away from United and they would be a long way off second place in the Premier League and maybe the move to raise awareness will give them a problem in the final few weeks of this season.

This issue could be a concern for United in the final third of this season, as the battle for a top four finish took a few interesting twists over the weekend.

Leicester losing, combined with the draw between Chelsea and United, was good news for Klopp’s side, as they got back to winning ways at Sheffield United.

I suggested in my column last week that Chelsea were favourites to claim a top-four finish ahead of Liverpool, but that could change depending on what happens at Anfield, when the two teams meet on Thursday night.

This game feels like a mini-Cup Final now, with a win for Chelsea putting them firmly in the driving seat to secure the Champions League finish.

Yet Liverpool finally have some reasons to be cheerful, with Fabinho set to make a welcome return to the defensive line and Diogo Jota also set to be available again.

My big concern for Liverpool right now is their shattered confidence at Anfield and it seems strange to be writing that after all the success they’ve enjoyed on home soil since Klopp arrived as manager.

Anfield was a fortress when the fans were there, but everything has flipped against them this season and the players look nervous on home soil.

In addition, opposition teams are finding a way to stop Liverpool at Anfield, but it could all turn around on Thursday night.

If Liverpool beat Chelsea, the push for a top-four finish will be back in their hands, so it’s suddenly looking like a key game in their entire campaign.

FACT: Manchester United have failed to score a single goal in their last six league meetings with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Spurs – each of their last four matches against those sides have finished goalless.

DID YOU KNOW: Half of Bruno Fernandes’ 34 goals for Manchester United have come from the penalty spot.

PREMIER LEAGUE PENALTIES AWARDED (last two seasons)

1. Man United - 22

2. Man City - 18

3. Leicester - 17

4. Chelsea - 15

5. Liverpool - 11

6. Arsenal - 9

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