Jurgen Klopp is adamant Liverpool's recent woes in attack are simply down to poor decision-making in the final third rather than teams getting wise to their style of play.

The Reds head into Thursday's Premier League clash with Burnley having failed to score in any of their previous three top-flight games.

They beat Crystal Palace 7-0 just over a month ago but have since won just three points in the league, scoring once and seeing Manchester United rise to the summit. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men can return to the top with a win over Fulham on Wednesday.

Much of the focus on Liverpool's attacking issues has somewhat unsurprisingly been centred on Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, all of whom were disappointing in the 0-0 draw with United.

But Klopp seemed irritated when it was suggested a factor could be that other teams have learnt how to play against them.

"You can make of it what you want, it's football, it's not a new game, we didn't invent it new and then surprise the teams last year and they were like, 'oh my god, so that's how they attack'," Klopp said in his news conference.

"No team is to defend for a whole game, well, maybe a whole game but not then the next one. Other teams know what we're doing, last year they knew what we were doing, but we were still difficult to defend.

"Most of the good chances - we didn't miss them because they defended them, we missed because we didn't use them, so that is a massive difference. There are chances where we just have to finish them off better. That's the reason.

"Teams defend against us with all they have, that's not new. So, at the moment we have an 'offensive crisis', next headline will be everyone knows how to play against us.


"You smile as you ask the question but you know exactly what this kind of headline creates and what people are thinking, but it's normal. It's the situation we are in.

"I think I heard somewhere I have to rebuild this team? The world is a crazy place, not only because of the pandemic. It's because no one has time anymore, in football we know that.

"I've been in football long enough to know you never get time, you only get time if you make steps forward.

"After last season we haven't made steps forward, we know that, but we only make steps forward by playing not talking."

Of his first-choice attacking trio, Firmino seems to be the one receiving most of the criticism – after all, the Brazilian has only scored five times in the Premier League this season.

His goals (0.26) and assists (0.15) per 90 minutes this term across all competitions are the worst he has posted at Liverpool under Klopp, while his chance creation frequency is also at a low of 1.2 every 90 minutes.

It was put to Klopp that Liverpool have been less effective with regards to pressing this term, though Klopp dismissed the importance of that.

When asked how Firmino can get back on track, Klopp said: "By training, let's start with that, that's how it is.

"We didn't score a lot of goals in these games, it doesn't mean Roberto's performance dropped or whatever the counter press stats say – in this game it was not the case because a player wasn't there or we didn't do it well enough, we had a lot of great counter-pressing in this game, in other games before we press they may play a long ball, that's how it is.

"It's not always about your game, it's about the other team's approach as well, but we know we're not exactly where we want to be, there are some reasons but that’s not important, it's that we have to fight and we do."

Chelsea needed a late intervention from Mason Mount to overcome Fulham 1-0 on Saturday, relieving the pressure on boss Frank Lampard. 

Brendan Rodgers - a man tipped to take over at Stamford Bridge if Lampard is removed as boss - saw his Leicester City side climb up to second in the table with a 2-0 win over Southampton. 

There were also wins for Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and struggling West Brom. 

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

 

Fulham 0-1 Chelsea: Mount settles west London derby

Chelsea left it late to overcome Fulham at Craven Cottage, Mason Mount scoring with 12 minutes remaining to end the Blues' run of three straight away Premier League defeats. 

The scoreline perhaps should not come as a surprise, given Chelsea have won 131 Premier League games by that margin - the most common winning score for a single team in the competition's history. 

The result also marked Chelsea's fourth away clean sheet of the season - a feat they managed just once last season. 

It could have been a different outcome had Antonee Robinson not seen red shortly before half-time for a wild lunge on Cesar Azpilicueta. That dismissal was Fulham's third in the Premier League this season - no side has had more so far this term. 

Defeat for Scott Parker's side means they are winless in their last 19 top-flight London derby matches since a 2-1 win over West Ham in January 2014.

Leicester City 2-0 Southampton: Maddison and Barnes on target for flying Foxes

Leicester moved up to second in the Premier League after earning their first home league win against Southampton since April 2016, ending a run of four without a win against the Saints at the King Power Stadium. 

They were set on their way by James Maddison, who has now scored in consecutive top-flight games for the Foxes for the first time since October 2019, matching his goal tally at the King Power Stadium from each of the previous two campaigns.

Harvey Barnes' 10th goal of the season sealed all three points, the winger equalling his best ever goals return in a single campaign. 

Southampton, meanwhile, have now failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 34 in the competition.

The Saints' first 12 Premier League games this season saw 41 goals scored (F24 A17), at an average of 3.4 per game, while their last six games have seen just six goals scored (F2 A4).

Wolves 2-3 West Brom: Pereira brace gives Allardyce lift off

Sam Allardyce got off the mark with his first win as West Brom boss to revive his side's survival hopes against out-of-form Wolves.

The veteran manager, previously without a win in five matches in all competitions since taking over, is now without defeat in six Premier League games against Wolves - his best unbeaten return against any side in the division.

Matheus Pereira gave West Brom the lead from the penalty spot early on - the ninth league game in a row Wolves have conceded first - before Fabio Silva and Willy Boly turned the game in the home side's favour.

In doing so, Boly became the first Wolves player to concede a penalty, assist and score a goal in the same Premier League game since Adlene Guedioura in May 2011 - also against West Brom at Molineux.

Semi Ajayi levelled the game up with his ninth headed goal since the start of 2018-19 - no defender in England's top four tiers has scored more, level with Virgil van Dijk and Aaron Pierre - and Pereira scored the winner with another spot-kick.

Wolves, who last lost successive home league games against West Brom between 1929 and 1931, are without a clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches - the longest ongoing run among sides in the division.

Leeds 0-1 Brighton: Maupay haunts Bielsa's men again

Brighton ended a nine-game winless run in the Premier League with a narrow victory at Leeds thanks to Neal Maupay's close-range finish after 17 minutes.

Maupay rounded off a slick team move for his 10th away goal for Albion in the competition, making him just the second player to reach that tally for the Seagulls after Glenn Murray (11).

It was the striker's fourth goal in five league appearances against Leeds and ensured a first ever away top-flight victory in this fixture for his side at the fourth attempt.

Leeds, whose two shots on target was their second fewest in a home match under Marcelo Bielsa, have lost their first three games in a calendar year for the first time since 2014.

West Ham 1-0 Burnley: Antonio hits milestone goal in narrow win

Michail Antonio made the difference as Burnley fired another blank, the versatile forward becoming the fourth West Ham player to reach the 40-goal mark for the club after Paolo Di Canio (47), Mark Noble (46) and Carlton Cole (41).

All 40 of those goals have been scored inside the penalty area - only Tim Cahill (56), Javier Hernandez (53), Gabriel Jesus (43) and John Terry (41) have netted more with 100 per cent coming inside the box.

No team has failed to score in more different Premier League games than Burnley this season (10), while no team has netted in more different games than West Ham (15).

It was also a third successive clean sheet in the league for David Moyes' men for the first time since September 2019 as they picked up an eighth win of the campaign in their 18th game, a tally it took them 32 games to reach last time around.

The Premier League's relentless schedule continues with matchday 19 this weekend.

Keeping on top of your fantasy teams has been tough with the intense fixture list and increasingly regular postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To make things a little bit easier, we have used Opta data to highlight a few candidates for selection in your side.
 

NICK POPE

Burnley may only be four points clear of the drop zone, but when Pope is in the team they are difficult to beat.

Since the start of November, no goalkeeper to have featured at least four times has conceded fewer than Pope (four).

He has kept five clean sheets during that run and has the best save percentage in the Premier League at 90 per cent.


JOHN STONES

Manchester City are starting to look like Premier League title contenders once again, and a resurgent Stones has played a key role in that.

He has helped his side keep six clean sheets in his eight Premier League appearances this season, the highest percentage among defenders to play more than four games in 2020-21.
 

MARCUS RASHFORD

A mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash between Liverpool and Manchester United is scheduled to take place on Sunday and Rashford will again hope to prove influential in this fixture.

He has scored three goals in his past four Premier League appearances against Liverpool, earning his team four points in the process.

Only Wayne Rooney (six), Andy Cole (four) and Ryan Giggs (four) have found the back of the net against Liverpool more times for United in the Premier League than Rashford.


PEDRO NETO

Wolves host second-bottom West Brom in a West Midlands derby on Saturday.

With Raul Jimenez out due to a fractured skull, Neto has done his best to keep Nuno Espirito Santo's side pushing for a place in the top six.

He has the most Premier League goal involvements (four scored, three assisted) this season of any player aged 21 or younger, while his 32 chances created are twice as many as Bukayo Saka in second.

TOMAS SOUCEK

There is no doubting that Soucek has made himself an important part of David Moyes' West Ham side.

The Czech Republic international is the Hammers' highest-scoring player with five goals. He has also been involved in the most goal-ending open play sequences (seven) for the team this season.

CHRIS WOOD

Burnley may not be the most prolific team in the Premier League but Wood does not find it hard to score against West Ham.

The New Zealand striker has scored six goals in as many top-flight appearances against the Hammers, averaging a goal every 58 minutes.

He has not scored more than four against any other Premier League opponent.

Manchester United are top of the Premier League at this stage of the season for the first time since Alex Ferguson's final year in charge.

Few would have predicted such a turn of events when United fell to a tame 1-0 loss against Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 1.

Since then, though, United have gone on an 11-match unbeaten run in the league that contained nine victories, including the 1-0 away win over Burnley on Tuesday.

As a result, they sit three points clear of Premier League champions Liverpool ahead of their huge trip to Anfield on Sunday.

We have used Opta data to look at who has performed best, both for United and across the league, during this resurgent period for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

IMPRESSIVE ATTACKING STATS

United have conceded a respectable 11 goals in as many matches, but it is their attacking play which is really separating them from the pack.

They have scored 25 goals in those 11 games, five more than anyone else in the league. Liverpool are next with 20, though they have played one game fewer, followed by Leeds United and Leicester City (both 18).

United have racked up 122 attempts at goal, which is second-best in the league – only Leeds (132) rank higher.

And United's efforts have been more accurate, as they have the most shots on target (72), well clear of Leeds and Liverpool (both 56).

BRUNO AND RASHFORD STAND OUT

It will surprise few to learn that Bruno Fernandes has been United's best performer over the past 11 games, just as he has been since his debut a year ago.

He has scored eight goals for United in the 11-match period, with the next best contributors being the impressive Marcus Rashford (five) and new arrival Edinson Cavani (three).

Fernandes also comes out on top for assists with five. Rashford again follows closely with three, which is also the tally registered by Anthony Martial.

Once again Fernandes (27) and Rashford (24) both come out on top when it comes to shots, with Martial also generating a good number of attempts (22).

As you might expect, that trio subsequently fare best when it comes to attempts on target, with Fernandes (18) ahead of Rashford and Martial (both 14).

The Portugal international has 316 successful passes in the opposition half over those 11 games. Rashford (221) is second and a welcome sight for United is Paul Pogba (195) coming next in the list.

A continued renaissance for Pogba, particularly if Solskjaer can get him more involved offensive areas, could provide United with an x-factor in addition to the consistent numbers being produced by Fernandes and Rashford, who asssisted the World Cup winner's goal against Burnley.

A continued renaissance for Pogba, particularly if Solskjaer can get him more involved in offensive areas, could provide United with an x-factor in addition to the consistent numbers being produced by Fernandes and Rashford, who assisted the World Cup winner's goal against Burnley.

Fernandes leads United for chances created over the 11 matches with 34. Improving full-back Luke Shaw is a surprise second with 17, followed by Martial and Rashford (12).

FERNANDES IN ELITE COMPANY

The eight goals scored by Fernandes since November 2 puts him two clear of the next best in the league, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah (six).

Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne (six) just edges him for assists and is the only man with a higher number across all Premier League teams during that span.

When the metrics are adjusted to calculate contributions per 90 minutes spent on the pitch, some other United players come to the fore

Fernandes and Cavani (0.79) fare best for United in a tie for fifth for goals per 90 minutes, with Aston Villa star Anwar El Ghazi, who has been on a hot streak, topping the list on 0.94.

Everton's Lucas Digne is averaging one assist per 90 minutes over the period, though his sample size is a little smaller after missing time for injury.

De Bruyne averages 0.67 assists per 90 minutes, while United's top player in the category is Cavani on 0.53, ahead of Fernandes on a still impressive 0.49.

That suggests Cavani, despite his relatively quiet return from suspension at Turf Moor, could have more to offer than just goals and an aerial threat if deployed regularly as a number nine.

When it comes to shots on target, Martial is in a tie for third in the Premier League with Fernandes (both 1.78 per 90).

The rampant El Ghazi (2.99) and resurgent Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette (2.04) top the charts during the timeframe.

Perhaps surprisingly it is Nemanja Matic who averages the most completed passes in the opposition half per game among United players (34.11).

Liverpool duo Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones are ranking as the league's best in that category since November 2 at 52.86 and 48.28 respectively.

With chances created, Fernandes (fourth, 3.36 per 90 minutes) and Shaw (eighth, 2.88) both come out well.

But it is reported United target Jack Grealish (4.22) who has been far and away the most creative player in the top flight over the period.

It is clear the form and fitness of Fernandes will continue to be imperative to United's hopes of sustaining a serious title challenge.

But if Rashford, Martial, Cavani, Pogba and Shaw can build on their positive contributions during their surge to the top in support of Fernandes, the goals should be able to keep flowing.

If they do and a positive result at Anfield leads to a six-point advantage, perhaps fans can dare to dream.

Manchester United players can sense they have a chance to make this a special season, says Gary Neville.

Paul Pogba scored a volley with 19 minutes remaining on Tuesday to give United a 1-0 away victory over Burnley.

That moved them top of the Premier League, three points clear of champions Liverpool ahead of the two teams' crunch clash at Anfield on Sunday.

Former United captain Neville believes Liverpool are in for an uncomfortable few days and urged fans of the Red Devils to relish their return to the summit.

The last time United were top at this stage of the season was in 2012-13, Alex Ferguson's last season which ended in title glory.

"I believe these players feel they can have a really special season," Neville said to Sky Sports.

"It's odd, it's changing every single week, you don't know what is going to happen - there's an element of unpredictability and Manchester United could exploit that.

"It's a big win, to go top of the league before Sunday feels like a big moment. Six to eight weeks ago you wouldn't have thought Manchester United would have been anywhere near this position.

"Yet, now, they find themselves with something building, the spirit is growing as you could see with the way they celebrated with each other.

"Some performances haven't been great all the time away from home but they have won when they haven't been at their best. It's a little bit more exciting and l am going to enjoy these next three or four days!

"I don't think anyone is saying Manchester United will win the league but the fact that they are in a title fight - wow! I never would have imagined it.

"It's a strange season. Why shouldn't Manchester United fans believe? Why shouldn't this side believe? Look at the front three, that midfield four, Bruno Fernandes - they have some fantastic players.

"The other teams aren't in great form. Man City are sitting there cool and calm, nobody is really talking about them, but they are hitting very good form and that is a real danger. 

"But in the next few days it is time to have a little bit of fun. It won't be a comfortable few days for Liverpool."

Neville added: "We know full well how quickly this season has turned around: it was Chelsea four weeks ago and Man United looked dead, but it is all turning around again.

"It shouldn't stop Manchester United fans get carried away in the next few days. Why shouldn't they? It's been a really difficult few years." 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted United are ready for the challenge of facing Liverpool.

"It's a brilliant position to be in," said the United manager.

"Of course we know we're going to the champions who have had an unbelievable three-and-a-half-seasons, we know it's going to be a difficult game for us, but we are ready for it.

"We couldn't have asked for a better time to play them because we are in good shape, good form and hungry. These boys want to get better and that's the test of their character and quality.

"Of course, we enjoy being [top of the league] at any time, be that the first game or the last game, which is a big, big difference. We're looking forward to it, it's a great test of where we're at.

"We're almost halfway through the season so it's a little bit of an indication of where you're at, but no one will remember the league table on January 12."

Manchester United star Paul Pogba said the Red Devils are ready for their top-of-the-table clash against Liverpool after leapfrogging the defending champions atop the Premier League.

United top the Premier League table at this stage of the season for the first time since Alex Ferguson's final season in charge in 2012-13 following Tuesday's 1-0 victory at Burnley.

Pogba was the hero – his volley 19 minutes from the end sending United three points clear of rivals Liverpool ahead of Sunday's blockbuster showdown at Anfield.

"It will be a beautiful game for everyone," Pogba told BBC Sport, with five of his past seven Premier League goals coming away from home.

"It's a big game coming up so let's get ready for it."

United controlled proceedings away to Burnley and saw Harry Maguire's first-half goal ruled out for a foul.

But Pogba stepped up in the second half at Turf Moor, converting Marcus Rashford's cross.

Rashford has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 14 Premier League appearances (six goals and five assists) after teeing up Pogba.

United, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their past 15 away fixtures in the Premier League since losing 2-0 to Liverpool in January last year.

"We knew if we won tonight we would be top of the league when we play Liverpool," said Pogba, who had game highs in touches (106), completed passes (71) and clearances (five).

"We have to keep calm, now it is the big moment. We will see what is going to happen."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels Manchester United are "getting better and better" after edging past Burnley 1-0 on Tuesday to move top of the Premier League.

Paul Pogba made the breakthrough at Turf Moor 19 minutes from time to move United three points clear of Liverpool ahead of Sunday's showdown between the bitter rivals.

It is the first time the Red Devils have occupied top spot this deep into the season since December 2012 in Sir Alex Ferguson's final campaign in charge.

United head to Anfield as the division's only unbeaten side on their travels this term, winning seven out of eight, while going further back they are 15 without defeat away from home in the league.

And after seeing his side win for a ninth time in 11 unbeaten matches overall in the top flight, Solskjaer wants his side to take on the reigning champions with no fear.

"We are getting better and better. We're almost halfway through the season but nobody will remember the league table on January 12," he told BBC Sport.

"We feel very confident going into games. Away from home we have really done well. We have to believe in ourselves and we do. 

"We've done a great job - it's good times for us. It's going to be a test against the champions, who have been fantastic, That's a great test for us."

Speaking to Sky Sports, Solskjaer added: "They've had an unbelievable three seasons so we're ready for it. 

"But we're ready and we're excited, we're hungry for it and it's a test of character and quality again. We're in a good position going into it."

Despite their impressive away form, the clean sheet against Burnley was United's first on their travels this season in the league, conceding 11 in their previous seven outings.

The visitors dominated a game in which their opponents failed to register a single attempt on target, though it looked as though it may be a frustrating day until Pogba converted Marcus Rashford's cross.

A couple of controversial VAR calls went against United in the first half, including Harry Maguire's header being disallowed for a perceived challenge on Erik Pieters.

That made the eventual victory all the more pleasing for Solskjaer, even if the scoreline was tighter than he would have liked.

"Frustrations were there for everyone to see - it affected our performance," he said. "We can't let that happen. Harry's goal was a perfectly good one. Half-time helped us. We came out second half really well and deserved the win.

"I'd rather win 4-0 - it's so much more comfortable. At 1-0 you have to see out one or two big moments. They pegged us back, you expect that. But we put our body on the line, of course the mentality is getting better. I'm very pleased with the spirit."

Pogba's last seven Premier League goals have all come away from home, this latest strike taking his tally for the season to four in all competitions.

"I've always said Paul is a big player for us," Solskjaer said. "He's a good character in the dressing room, someone the lads look to, a world champion. 

"We're seeing the best of Paul at the moment - he's been injured and he's had COVID so it's natural to need to get back to fitness after that."

Paul Pogba felt Harry Maguire was wrongly denied a beautiful goal but hailed Manchester United for keeping cool heads to move top of the Premier League.

United captain Maguire thought he had headed United into a first-half lead against Burnley only for referee Kevin Friend to controversially adjudge he had fouled Erik Pieters in the process. 

VAR backed that decision and for a while it looked like United would be frustrated in their bid for victory.

But Pogba connected sweetly with a Marcus Rashford cross 19 minutes from time and his volley beat home goalkeeper Nick Pope with the aid of a deflection off Matthew Lowton.

It gave United a 1-0 win that moves them three points clear of Premier League champions Liverpool ahead of the massive clash between the two teams at Anfield on Sunday.

"It was a goal for sure - I don't know what happened," Pogba said about the Maguire disallowed header, which came shortly after VAR had intervened to rescind a Robbie Brady foul, instead penalising Luke Shaw.

"It was a beautiful goal and the referee decided that it was not. It was a strange decision, but we got the result we wanted so we are happy.

"Obviously it is hard but you have to be professional and we know it wasn't going to be easy with the decision of the referee which I didn't agree with.

"But I'm not the boss on the pitch so we just have to keep calm and keep focused and of course we scored and won the game."

United are top at this stage of the season for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season in charge, when they went on to win the title.

But after just 17 top-flight games, Pogba reminded his team-mates there is so much work still to do.

"You can see that the game was going both ways, it is very hard to play here," added man of the match Pogba, who had game highs in touches (104), completed passes (70) and clearances (five).

"They have a style of play, very strong and we knew it would be difficult.

"We had to keep our heads calm and just focus on ourselves and hope the goal would come and it did come. It was a great performance from everyone, good focus.

"Always happy when I win - we won and I'm happy we played well. Still a long way to go and we have big games to go so we have to focus on that.

"We got the three points and we're happy for that but there's still a long way and now we focus again until the end of the season."

Paul Pogba volleyed in the winning goal as Manchester United moved top of the Premier League by winning 1-0 at Burnley.

United only needed a point on Tuesday to move above champions Liverpool ahead of the two teams' crunch clash at Anfield this weekend.

But the resurgent Pogba converted Marcus Rashford's cross with 19 minutes left to ensure United moved three points clear of their great rivals.

Burnley defended well but did not manage a single shot on target, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side had a first-half goal Harry Maguire goal disallowed.

The hosts went close early on when Eric Bailly made a key block to divert Chris Wood's effort away from David de Gea's goal.

Anthony Martial fired off target when a presentable chance was given to him by Nemanja Matic before VAR took centre stage.

After a long review, Robbie Brady's foul on Edinson Cavani just outside the area was rescinded and Luke Shaw was booked for a foul on Johann Gudmundsson earlier in the move, with Burnley calling for a red.

Maguire impressively headed in a Shaw cross only for a foul to be awarded for his duel with Erik Pieters. Nick Pope then impressively kept out a Martial curler to ensure the first half ended goalless.

A golden opportunity went begging after the break when Cavani scuffed a close-range effort straight at Burnley keeper Pope after Martial had squared into his path.

Rashford had been enduring a quiet evening out on the right until he picked out Pogba at the edge of the penalty area just as it began to look like United would have to settle for a draw.

Pogba latched on to it and superbly volleyed in, with a deflection off Matthew Lowton ensuring Pope was powerless to keep it out.

There were a couple of late scares for United, with James Tarkowski squandering an opportunity and Maguire not penalised amid claims of handball, but they held on with only late injuries to Martial – who had a last-gasp shot saved by Pope - and Nemanja Matic dampening the mood.
 

David de Gea insists Manchester United must make their presence felt in this season's Premier League title race.

United will go top of the table if they avoid defeat against Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday, a feat that would make Sunday's showdown with reigning champions and bitter rivals Liverpool all the more mouthwatering.

De Gea was part of the last United side to win a championship as Alex Ferguson retired in a blaze of 2012-13 glory.

Since then, they have tended to exist on the margins of the Premier League's 'big six' and this is something the Spain goalkeeper is keen to change.

"Yes I have been fighting for the title in a couple of seasons when Sir Alex was here. Now we are there again and it’s taken us a lot of time to get there to be honest and we cannot miss this chance," De Gea told United's official website.

"We have to be very, very focused in every game and try to win all of them. Hopefully if we are good physically and mentally then we can be there and we can fight for sure for the Premier League.

"It’s true there is a lot [of games] to play yet, but of course it’s a chance to be there, to be top of the league.

"It’s a good challenge for us. We will play against a difficult team in Burnley, away from home, but if we want to win the league then we have to win these type of matches.

"I'm saying the same thing, but all we can do is focus on each match, take it game-by-game and be 100 per cent focused."

De Gea has overcome some patchy form over recent seasons to retain his status as United number one in the face of Dean Henderson's challenge.

He recently became the club's leading Premier League appearance maker among non-British players and, at 30 years of age, believes he has plenty more to give at Old Trafford.

"I feel good, confident and proud. I've played a lot of games but hopefully like I said there are many more to come," De Gea added. "When you feel well and train well then in the games it's easy to play.

"You have to be focused of course and always play at 100 per cent and helping the team is the most important thing. The team is winning and in good form so everything at the moment is good."

Ordinarily, Burnley v Manchester United wouldn't be the sort of match that receives much attention from those without a vested interest in either team.

A somewhat local encounter it may be, Burnley perhaps aren't – with all due respect – the sort of team that attracts swathes of neutrals.

Nevertheless, Tuesday's fixture at Turf Moor holds genuine significance for United as it provides them with the opportunity to go top of the Premier League.

Granted, it may only be January 12 and we aren't quite at the halfway point of the season, but such an opportunity represents real progress.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men go into the match – which was postponed at the start of the campaign due to United's run to the Europa League semi-finals – level on points with the Liverpool, who they host at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Once the leading power in the Premier League under Alex Ferguson, United have not been at such a level for a while – could this be the start of a sustained resurgence?

A long time coming

In Solskjaer's pre-match news conference, he initially downplayed the importance of going top in January, suggesting such matters were trivial until March or April.

Yet, he also made a point of telling the team that it is time United establish themselves as title challengers again.

It would be generous to suggest they have been worthy of that distinction at any point since Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

Their highest finish during this time was second in 2017-18, though United finished 19 points adrift of a devastating Manchester City side that looked like champions-elect for much of the season as they amassed a record 100 points.

Indeed, United have been top of the table for a grand total of 51 days in the post-Ferguson era – 41 of those were under Jose Mourinho, eight with Louis van Gaal and just two during David Moyes' ill-fated reign.

The last time they finished the day top of the Premier League table was in August 2018, though considering their 2-1 win over Leicester City was the sole game on the very first day of the season and they did not retain their place for 24 hours, one has to ask whether that even counts.

But what most highlights the strides Solskjaer has made is the fact that none of those previous 51 days at the summit were this far into a season.

Of course, Burnley could yet pull off an upset and United may finish the season without ever sitting in top spot – or this could be a watershed moment for them and Solskjaer.

The Fernandes factor

Every team needs its talisman and even the most ardent United supporter will surely admit any title challenge would be impossible without Bruno Fernandes.

The Portugal midfielder's influence since joining United at the end of the January 2020 transfer window has been nothing short of remarkable.

While Liverpool have certainly not been without personnel issues, Fernandes has more than played his part in bridging the gap.

When we look at the Premier League table during Fernandes' time in England, United sit top with 65 points from 30 games, three clear of Liverpool who have played a game extra.

United's 19 wins is a league high and their three defeats is the lowest over the same time period, while only Liverpool (66) have scored more than their 63.

They might already be way out in front without the defensive issues that have intermittently reared their head, though few would accuse the team of lacking character – United have claimed 25 points from losing positions since Fernandes' first game.

'On the road is where I really come alive'

If there's one thing Solskjaer's Man United and The Office character David Brent have in common, it's that they relish life on the road.

United's record away from home over the past year has been in a league of its own, as they are unbeaten in 14 games away from Old Trafford.

It's also away from home where their never-say-die attitude has been most prominent. They seldom see a foregone conclusion when they fall behind, with 20 of their 36 points on the road coming from being at least a goal down. That's double any other team.

If you want the rainbow, you've got to put up with the rain, but thankfully for United they are yet to slip up on their travels since February.

They are averaging 2.6 points per away game, with no other side managing more than 1.7.

Solskjaer won't be counting on a free ride at Turf Moor on Tuesday, but he will surely expect at least the point they need to go top.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he is excited by the openness of the Premier League title race this season as the Red Devils eye silverware.

United visit Burnley on Tuesday level on 33 points alongside rivals and defending champions Liverpool atop the table, and with the chance to move to the summit having played a game less.

Liverpool cruised to Premier League glory by 18 points last season, but only a point separates the leaders and third-placed Leicester City this term, while Chelsea are just seven points adrift in ninth position through 17 rounds.

Solskjaer is relishing the competitiveness as United seek to win their first Premier League trophy since 2012-13.

"I think all the teams want to take a grip on the Premier League, of course," Solskjaer told reporters.

"But it's just that kind of season, kind of year, kind of situation where there will be ups and downs, less consistency in results and performances.

"For me, it's exciting. As a supporter or as a fan, it's more interesting, of course, when there are more teams in and around each other compared to last season, where one just ran away."

Once English football's leading power under Alex Ferguson, United have spent just 51 days top of the table since the legendary Scottish manager retired in 2013.

The last time United finished a day at the summit was the very first of the 2018-19 season after beating Leicester 2-1 – their meeting was the only game that day, and the Manchester club were knocked off top spot by the end of that weekend.

United are unbeaten on the road in the top flight in 16 games and Burnley have not won successive league meetings with the Red Devils since 1968.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has already forced the postponement of fixtures – Solskjaer said: "I think it's going to be very important if you've managed to keep a fit squad. It's not just about fitness injury-wise, of course – it's also the COVID. You can see teams being really badly hit at times.

"Our boys have done well in that regard. We've not really lost many. The players themselves have done better. 

"You've got less things to do outside football than you might. You stay at home, you rest and recover and maybe for your own mental health you do some things back in your own gym. You're working and looking after yourself. I think that's also a factor here.

"I don't think they'd be going out too much anyway, but you've got no chance of going out [at the moment]. Hopefully they'll find out that we can live this way for the rest of our careers and get the most out of our careers!"

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Edinson Cavani is "ready to go" for Tuesday's Premier League clash with Burnley following his recent ban, but Paul Pogba is a doubt. 

Cavani was suspended for three matches and fined £100,000 by the Football Association for posting a message in response to an Instagram story after he scored twice in United's 3-2 comeback win at Southampton on November 29.

The post from Cavani featured a Spanish word often used as a term of endearment in Latin America, with Cavani later apologising and deleting when he is said to have become aware the word could be construed as having racist connotations in English.

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker had been in good form before the ban, scoring three goals and creating two more for his team-mates from just two starts in the Premier League. Indeed, the Uruguay international has been involved in a goal every 59.4 minutes in the top flight this season.

United make the short trip to Burnley as the only side still unbeaten away from home in the Premier League this season, winning six of their seven games so far.

Another victory over Sean Dyche's Clarets will see United move three points clear of Liverpool – whom the Red Devils face on Sunday – at the league summit and Solskjaer has no doubts Cavani will be in a position to contribute. 

"Edinson has trained well when he's been banned," the United boss told a media conference. "He's had a couple days off as well, you can't train too much. He is ready to go. 

"He gives us a different option, he's a different type of forward to the others, so I'm glad to have him back, that's why we brought him in. 

"He's contributed really well so far. I'm sure he'll be really important for us until the end of the season. We feel the season starts tomorrow night."

Pogba, meanwhile, was absent from United's squad for the 1-0 FA Cup win over Watford on Saturday and Solskjaer confirmed a decision on his involvement at Turf Moor will not be made until Tuesday. 

"All of them trained today," he added. "Paul and Eric [Bailly, who went off injured against Watford with a neck issue] didn't do all of it but Luke [Shaw] and Victor [Lindelof] did, so I've got a decent amount of players to pick from. Let's see with Paul and Eric how they are tomorrow."

While Solskjaer confirmed several fringe players may leave Old Trafford during the January transfer window, he suggested the club would only dip into the market themselves if a "long-term target" becomes available. 

"January is always difficult but if something comes up about a long-term target, that's another scenario," he said. 

"Not many teams want to lose their players in January, so it's unlikely something will happen on the 'in' side. 

"There might be a few players going out. For one thing, they deserve to play more football for their own good and their own careers."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged Manchester United to finally establish themselves as Premier League challengers once again as they aim to go top of the Premier League table against Burnley on Tuesday.

After a somewhat shaky start to the season, United have steadily climbed up the table and head into their next Premier League game level on 33 points with defending champions Liverpool, who have played a game more.

Indeed, ever since the start of 2020-21 United have been playing catch-up due to their involvement in the extended Europa League campaign last term, and Tuesday's contest will finally see them back on level footing in terms of matches played.

Once English football's leading power under Alex Ferguson, United have spent just 51 days top of the table since the Scottish manager retired in 2013.

The last time they finished a day at the summit was the very first of the 2018-19 season after beating Leicester City 2-1 – their meeting was the only game that day, and United were knocked off top spot by the end of that weekend.

Solskjaer was eager to play down the importance of being top in January, though he did accept United have to take this chance to confirm themselves as challengers again.

"We're better off this season than we were at this stage last season; we've scored more goals, won more games, played better football," he told reporters on Monday. "Nobody remembers who's top on January 12, and for us it's about developing the team - we're progressing and we've shown we can bounce back from disappointment.

"We're improving. It's been since [Ferguson] left [that United challenged]. We've been second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth seventh, so it's up to us to establish ourselves among the top four. We've only been there three times since Ferguson left."

It was then put to Solskjaer that the inevitable comparisons of every Man United team with Ferguson's era might be unfair, and the Norwegian seemingly agreed, adamant the Premier League is an entirely different landscape in 2021.

"It's a different ball game to when I was a player," he said. "We were disappointed if we didn't win the league. But now so many teams consider themselves candidates.

"The league table doesn't really matter now, you pick up points and when you get to March, April, that's when the league is going to be decided.

"We knew this would be a difficult season for us, we had to catch up. I said we needed to hang in there, but that's not what I meant.

"I meant we had to pick up points and get performances right, don't let teams run away with it. We've done well."

The omens look good for United ahead of their trip to Turf Moor – they are unbeaten on the road in the top flight in 16 games and Burnley have not won successive league meetings with the Red Devils since 1968.

Their next game after Burnley is a mouth-watering clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Fulham have had a second successive Premier League match postponed after the latest round of coronavirus testing returned more positive results.

The Premier League postponed Fulham's clash with Tottenham, much to the frustration of Jose Mourinho, a matter of hours before kick-off on Wednesday after several members of Scott Parker's squad tested positive for the virus.

Parker – who himself has had to self-isolate recently – confirmed on Friday that he was preparing as normal for Sunday's planned away game with Burnley even though he had several players missing.

However, the trip to Turf Moor has now been called off to add further disruption to the Premier League season, with organisers having insisted the competition will continue despite rising rates of infection around the United Kingdom and talk of a possible "circuit breaker" suspension of competitive football in England.

With most regions of the country under strict lockdown measures, the Premier League confirmed 18 players or staff members had tested positive this week.

In a statement on Saturday, Fulham said: "Following further new positive results returned from the most recent COVID-19 tests, the club can confirm that this Sunday's away fixture at Burnley has been postponed after discussions with the Premier League and advice from medical teams.

"Those who tested positive are self-isolating in line with UK Government and Premier League guidance.

"The welfare of our players, staff and their families continue to be of paramount importance, and we wish those who have tested positive a safe and speedy recovery."

It is the fourth Premier League match to have been postponed this season due to coronavirus infections. Early in December, Newcastle United and Aston Villa had their match called off, while on Monday, Manchester City requested that their clash with Everton be pushed back after a further three players tested positive.

Pep Guardiola's team were able to return to training, however, after recording no further positive cases, and their game with Chelsea on Sunday is set to go ahead.

Page 1 of 12
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.