Red Devils register 1-0 win over Burnley on Tuesday
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was over the moon after the side reached the top position in the Premier League standings following a 1-0 away win over Burnley on Tuesday.
Paul Pogba’s deflected strike earned United a hard-fought win to move three points of clear of Liverpool, who have failed to win in their last three league games.
“It’s a brilliant position to be in,” said a smiling Solskjaer, whose future as manager had been under threat just a few months ago after a slow start to the season and group stage exit from the Champions League. “We know we are going to the champions, they’ve had an unbelievable three-and-a-half seasons, we know that’s going to be a difficult game, but we’re ready for it. We couldn’t be going there at a better time to play them because we are in good shape, good form, hungry, these boys want to get better and that’s a test again.”
In recent weeks Pogba has become an increasingly important influence in United’s first serious title challenge since Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager in 2013.
The French World Cup winner dominated midfield in the second-half at Turf Moor and fittingly got the winner when his strike from the edge of the box took a deflection off Matt Lowton to wrong-foot Nick Pope.
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has spoken openly about wanting to move his client on at the end of the season, but Solskjaer insisted the 27-year-old is a major part of his plans.
“I’ve always said Paul is a big, big player for us,” added Solskjaer. “He is a good character in the dressing room, he is always one the lads look to (because) he’s a world champion. We are seeing the best of Paul at the moment. He’s getting better and better every game.”
Everton moved back into the top four and within four points of United as they overcame an injury crisis to beat Wolves 2-1 at Molineux.
Carlo Ancelotti was forced to start without a recognised striker without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison only fit enough for a place on the bench.
The Toffees took an early lead when Alex Iwobi converted Lucas Digne’s cross but were pegged back when Ruben Neves levelled for Wolves.
Michael Keane’s towering header won the game 13 minutes from time to bolster the Blues’ European ambitions.
“We adapted really well to the characteristics of the players we had,” said Ancelotti.
At the other end of the table, Sheffield United ended a 20-game winless league run as Billy Sharp’s penalty earned a 1-0 victory over 10-man Newcastle.
The Blades still face an uphill task to haul themselves off the bottom of the table as they sit nine points adrift of safety.
But Chris Wilder’s men ensured they will not set an unwanted record by going a full top-flight season without a win thanks to another night to forget for Newcastle.
“It looked like we got our identity back,” said Wilder. “It was us with the handbrake off, going for it and playing well in and out of possession.”
The Magpies could yet find themselves dragged into a relegation battle as they remain eight points above the drop zone in 15th, but have played two games more than Fulham in 18th.
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