Perfect timing

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 Jan 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United's visit to defending champions Liverpool on Sunday could not have come at a better time after the Red Devils went top of the English Premier League for the first time in three years.

Paul Pogba's deflected strike earned United a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley to move them three points clear of Liverpool, who have failed to win in their last three league games.

"It's a brilliant position to be in," said Solskjaer, whose future as manager had been under threat a few months ago after a slow start to the season and a group-stage exit from the Champions League.

"We know we are going to the champions, they've had an unbelievable 3 1/2 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 ... 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 goalkeeper 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. "We are seeing the best of Paul at the moment. He's getting better and better every game."

Pogba cautioned that United have "a long way to go" but declared: "I'm always happy when I win. I'm happy we are playing well and happy we are at the top."

Elsewhere, 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.

Without a recognized striker with Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured and Brazilian Richarlison only fit enough for a place on the bench, the Toffees won thanks to Michael Keane's towering header 13 minutes from time. Ruben Neves had cancelled out Alex Iwobi's sixth-minute opener for Everton from Lucas Digne's cross.

"We adapted really well to the characteristics of the players we had," Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti said.

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 at Bramall Lane.

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