Manchester United can go to the top of the Premier League upon beating a stubborn Burnley side at Turf Moor. They just managed to do so with a gritty 1-0 win thanks to Pau Pogba’s winner. The first half didn’t have any goals, but was an extremely eventful one which saw Harry Maguire’s goal ruled out after the half-hour mark and the Red Devils frustrated by VAR.
The Red Devils kept blaring forward in numbers in the second half and after a lot of trying finally broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when Pogba’s impressive volley blasted into the back of the net thanks to a slight deflection. United rode their luck towards the end and were lucky not concede, but will definitely take this win.
They are now 3 points clear at the top of the table and in 1st position in the PL in January for the first time since 2013! But it remains to be seen whether they can stay at the top for long with some big games ahead, starting with a huge clash against defending champions Liverpool at the weekend!
Manchester United Player Ratings vs Burnley
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (7.5) –
Solskjaer was brave, yet spot on with going with a more attack-minded team knowing that Burnley would park the bus and just go for a point. Playing the Pogba-Matic midfield duo worked great as it maintained a perfect balance to help United dominate the game. Did well to encourage his players to march forward in look for the goal and made the right decisions not to make any subs before that.
He’ll still be worried by his side’s vulnerabilities in defending set-pieces, but deserves praise for another gritty win today. Last year at this place, United were around 30 points astray of the top. Now they still at the pinnacle. Solskjaer deserves a lot of credit for that incredible turnaround but the real test starts now to see whether he’s truly world-class or not.
David de Gea (6.0) –
Despite seeing some late threat from Burnley, De Gea didn’t have a single save to make today. His distribution and handling of crosses, however, were good and the only noticeable things from his performance.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (6.5) –
Wan-Bissaka’s aerial vulnerabilities will be tested by Burnley’s high crosses today. To his credit, he actually dealt with the crosses really well and won them well. Kept Burnley quiet through the left and ensured they couldn’t deliver much from that side. A pretty solid outing defensively but still could do better on the other side.
Harry Maguire (7.0) –
Maguire is physically adept to do well against the rugged Burnley attackers. Seemingly scored the opener in the 35th, but saw it unbelievably ruled out without any reason. Regardless, the United captain held his resolve to nullify Burnley’s counter-attacking threat and used his physique to great use to win many key aerial duels. Pretty solid outing to help his side get the clean-sheet.
Eric Bailly (7.5) –
The in-form centre-back retains his spot in the side after his heroics against Aston Villa. Makes a solid block in the 21st to deny Burnley a scoring chance. Then another brilliant one late in the 87th to deny Burnley a potential equalizer. Looked unnerved against the pressure and puts in another dominant performance at the back. Can’t afford to drop him now.
Luke Shaw (7.5) –
Shaw started the game looking sharp, making some crunchy challenges to win back possession. Somehow booked for what seemed an aggressive yet clean challenge around the half-hour mark. But Shaw maintained his vigour even after that, making some great forward runs and continuing his improved delivery. Looked really good defensively again and worked hard to get the job done.
Nemanja Matic (7.0) –
Matic is brought back into the team to shield his backline properly and use his physique to counter Burnley’s style. Showcases his intelligence with a clever pass to send Martial clear for his chance. He did his defensive job perfectly, bullying the Burnley midfielders and making many crucial recovery challenges to avert disaster. Used his experience well to grind out a win for his side.
Paul Pogba (9.0) –
Pogba’s operating in a deeper role than usual, trying to dictate the pace of the game and orchestrating the start of United’s attacks. His distribution’s been decent but lacking that creative bite so far. Got more involved in the attack in the second half and proves his class with a fantastic volley to score the opener. Sure it took a deflection, but that was still world-class.
Then almost sets up one for Martial with a fantastic through-ball into the area in the 82nd. Pogba toyed with Burnley’s midfielders, moving forward with elegance and getting stuck in defensively to help United see through a late storm. Seems to be getting back to his best and willing to lead United’s ambitious title charge from the front.
Bruno Fernandes (7.0) –
Bruno loves playing in away games and almost scored the opener in the 16th, but his instinctive effort went straight at Nick Pope. Looking up for it today and marshalling the attacks for United, getting into promising positions all the time to create danger. Booked before half-time for dissent after being annoyed by the officiating. Tests Pope again with a powerful attempt in the 54th.
Then hits another ambitious one to flutter the Burnley keeper minutes later. Showed great character to drive United forward throughout the game to ensure they got the winner and looked very good with his movement+touches in the final third.
Anthony Martial (7.0) –
Martial has been moved into the left-wing position, which is more naturally suited for him. Almost pulled off an insane acrobatic effort in the 19th, only to see it blocked off. Gets a better scoring chance few minutes later, but scuffs a left-footed shot over from a promising position. Almost makes up for it by nearly scoring a brilliant curler from a way out in the 45th, only for Pope to ruin things for him. Tucked in a clever ball to create Cavani’s chance early in the second half.
Dropped into a great scoring area in the 82nd, but his goal-bound shot was brilliantly blocked off. Misses a late chance to put the game to bed after his shot from close is saved well. Bit unlucky not to get among the goals after being quite active around the final third today.
Marcus Rashford (6.5) –
Rashford has the chance to create a personal record for most away goals scored in a PL season if he finds the net today. Didn’t seem to like playing on the right and despite being frustrating all game long, his perseverance paid off when his whipped cross assisted Pogba’s strike. Didn’t have the best game but still gets at least an assist for his hard-work.
Edinson Cavani (6.0) –
After missing the last 3 games, Cavani is back with a purpose today. Didn’t get enough service at all in the first half, but missed a big chance from open range in the 52nd. Tried curling one past a flurry of bodies in the 67th, only to see it braze barely wide of the target.
Despite looking rusty, Cavani worked admirably hard and recovered possession so many times. Could’ve been rewarded with an assist if Martial had converted his late chance.
Mason Greenwood (6.0) –
Greenwood hardly saw much of the ball as United found themselves defending for the entirety of the time he was on the pitch.
Scott McTominay (N/R) –
McTominay used his physique and ruggedness to help see out the result for his side.
Axel Tuanzebe (N/R) –
Brought on late on to help get the job done and did just that.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Pogba ran the show today. He made the most passes, took the most touches and even made the most clearances for any player in the game. On top of that, scored the vital winner to help his side get the big win. Definitely the MOTM for his incredible work today.