Manchester United have the firepower to push for a top-four finish in the Premier League, says Harry Maguire, but the defender stated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side must not get ahead of themselves.

United claimed their second successive victory as they secured a 2-1 derby victory over Manchester City on Saturday, three days after defeating Tottenham - managed by former boss Jose Mourinho - by the same scoreline.

The wins have taken United up to fifth, five points shy of fourth-place Chelsea, who on Saturday lost 3-1 to managerless Everton - United's next opponents in the league.

With Marcus Rashford having already matched his total tally of league goals from last season and Anthony Martial having netted what proved to be the winner against City, Maguire believes United's frontline has the quality to push them towards Champions League qualification.

However, the England centre-back is adamant United's squad will stay grounded, with the league outside of the top four still heavily congested.

"I think you need to look after your own results, don't look elsewhere, keep winning games," Maguire told Sky Sports. "We've won back-to-back games against Spurs and City. We've got another big game next week now.

"The top four is in sight but we just keep looking after our own results, keep trying to get the three points and keep improving.

"Over the last month or so, I feel like as a defender I look at the forwards and think they're going to score goals.

"At the start of the season, we didn't really score more than one goal in a game but now I think it's a few games on the spin where we're back to scoring goals.

"They're a big threat, they're top players, great talent and I think it's all coming together now."

Before hosting Everton on Sunday, United face AZ in their final Europa League group match, with an EFL Cup quarter-final against Colchester United coming up prior to the festive period.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to raise their game against the Premier League's "lesser teams".

United picked up back-to-back wins over Tottenham and bitter rivals Manchester City in the space of four days to revive their domestic campaign.

The Red Devils also beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season and are the only side to have taken a point off leaders Liverpool this term.

However, they have lost to two teams in the bottom six and drawn against two more struggling sides in Southampton and Aston Villa.

With games against bottom-half teams Everton, Watford and Burnley to come in three of their next four league outings, Solskjaer admitted a change of mentality may be required.

"If it's a mental thing, then we can sort it out," he said, according to several British newspapers. "We'll work with the mentality of the boys.

"For me, it's been very much about margins in those games. Some freak results that we can't control.

"But if you look behind the results, I'm not as negative as you are. I'm not so worried, so concerned. If the boys are then telling me they can't get up for these games then we've got a problem.

"Then I've really got to work with them because, when I played, that's how we won the league.

"We never gave points away against the lesser teams, the not-so-good teams. The Premier League is difficult – if you don't have that mentality you won't get results.

"You've got to earn the right to win. Sometimes you've got to earn it by passing quicker, winning the ball back – there are different ways of winning games of football."

A key part of United's success against Tottenham and City has been the improved form of Jesse Lingard, who was reprimanded earlier this year for a video posted on social media.

Lingard started both matches and Solskjaer is delighted with the way the United youth product has bounced back of late.

"He's Man United through and through," Solskjaer said. "He's a red, he's got a great attitude and a great work rate.

"Every one of us have things to deal with on the pitch and off the pitch and what he has had to deal with, that will be between us. It's great to see him back.

"You can criticise anyone about anything but for me as a manager, I have to look after these boys in the good and the bad times.

"It's great to work with him. I had him in the reserves, gave him his debut against Burnley. It's good to see him back to his old self."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Fred's star performance after Manchester United won 2-1 away to rivals Manchester City in the Premier League.

Goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial set up victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with Nicolas Otamendi's late reply proving only a consolation for the champions.

A fourth league defeat of the season leaves City 14 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, while United are a further eight points back despite securing successive wins.

Fred's form has improved in recent weeks after some strong criticism for much of his United career, and he shone against champions City, who had also reportedly been interested in signing him from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 26-year-old's display was particularly noteworthy given he was part of an unsavoury incident in the second half, in which he was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd and appeared to be subjected to alleged racist abuse.

"[He was] Arguably man of the match today," Solskjaer told reporters of the Brazil international. 

"He took the ball, he's playing against Kevin De Bruyne, probably the best player in the league and I thought he was excellent.

"It's great to see it; the boy deserves it. But when you get a run and keep the team together, Scott [McTominay] and Fred have made a great partnership."

The game was overshadowed by those second-half scenes when United had won a corner, with Fred hit after several items were thrown to the pitch, while he and team-mate Jesse Lingard appeared to be targeted by abuse.

City and Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they are working together to investigate the incident, while Solskjaer called for a life ban from football grounds for any individual found guilty of such an offence.

Rashford was among the players to speak out over the incident, with United captain Ashley Young also posting on Twitter: "Should never have to post anything like this because I'd have thought it's obvious but racism has no place in football or society.

"Kudos to Man City for the swift statement, I hope the individual is properly dealt with."

The Fred incident will make the headlines, but Solskjaer was keen to highlight United's first-half display and the importance of holding on for a victory.

"I was so happy with the way we started the game," Solskjaer said. "The way we created big chances, we looked like we could score every time we had the ball.

"And the intent was there to go forward, every time we had the ball. It's not about keeping it or slowing it down; we go for the kill and should have been three or four-nil up.

"But then again, you're playing against the best team in the world, so you have to defend well.

"I think the way we had to prepare for this game, because you follow this team for three years, and they're so hard to defend against because they're so good, I'm very pleased with how they dealt with everything, our boys."

Manchester City are working with police to investigate allegations of racial abuse after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said two Manchester United players were targeted in the derby.

During the second half of United's 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, the visitors' midfielder Fred seemed to be hit by an object thrown from the crowd as he prepared to take a corner.

Lighters and a plastic bottle could be seen by the corner flag while television footage appeared to show a supporter making racist gestures in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

Shortly after full-time, City released a statement saying they were investigating and threatened to issue life bans to any individual found to have committed racial abuse.

"Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening," their statement read.

"Officials from the club are working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries.

"The club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play.
 
"The club operates a zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life."

Solskjaer confirmed he had seen the incident and he too called for anyone found guilty of such abuse to be banned from grounds for life.

"I've seen it on video, of course," he told Sky Sports.

"Fred and Jesse in the corner taking coins from the City fans, first of all, so they've got to go away. Then there's this not-so-intelligent fella chanting racist abuse towards my two players.

"I hope City and the authorities will deal with it because he shouldn't be watching football again, not live anyway.

"We have to stamp it out. We keep talking about that every single week and it's not acceptable and he should not be allowed back into grounds. That's how simple it is."

Lingard tweeted after the match in response to footage of the alleged incident, saying: "Not even this idiot can ruin tonight's feeling, shameful behaviour, it may be the derby but there is never ever a reason to be racist!"

Anti-racism and discrimination organisation Kick It Out said it had "been inundated with reports of alleged racist abuse from a number of individuals" and called for "swift action" to identify those responsible.

City boss Pep Guardiola added that he supported his club's pledge to take action.

"I think the same as the club," he told Sky Sports.

"I support the club. We are going to work to avoid it happening again."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw Manchester United produce a terrific derby victory and said that was how he had always envisaged his team playing.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial fired United to a 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Solskjaer told Sky Sports News: "It's a Man United performance in my mould - I love the boys going forward when there's a chance."

It was a display comparable at times to how Alex Ferguson's great sides could pick apart defences at will, but Solskjaer is adamant this is a team of his own design.

After a slow start to the season, his United have come alive over the past week, deservedly beating Jose Mourinho's Tottenham on Wednesday before crossing Manchester to pick off their neighbours.

Their pace in attack left Pep Guardiola's City players standing at times, while Scott McTominay and Fred were impressive in anchoring the midfield.

And Solskjaer was quick to point out their 2-0 lead after half an hour was far from flattering.

He described the display as "fantastic", saying: "At the start of the game, we were exceptional, attacking every time we got the ball. It looked like we could carve them open every time.

"We could have, should have been three, four, five up, really. That's testament to the boys because they played so well.

"We were playing against, for me, the best coach in the world, the best team. It's so hard to play against them, players coming from everywhere, every angle.

"We were brilliant in the first half, especially. First half an hour, excellent. Some great, quick, attacking football.

"It wasn't just the direct ball or long ball. It was on the floor, quick transitions. I'm so pleased for the boys - they deserve it."

Solskjaer, whose job looked to be under threat only a week ago, added: "Of course, there's a time today when we don't keep the ball as well as we could have. But we're away at the best team in the world, for me.

"We're improving all the time. The boys are getting experiences to remember."

As the Christmas season unofficially began on December 1, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked anything but merry.

Manchester United had been held to a 2-2 draw at home by promoted Aston Villa and the Red Devils' performance was utterly rancid for much of the game. Solskjaer appeared helpless at full-time.

Ahead of a particularly bleak run of mid-winter fixtures, reports suggested Solskjaer could join Santa in expecting to be burdened with the sack for Christmas. Two games to save his job, some said, with Mauricio Pochettino looming large.

Those two matches; Jose Mourinho's Tottenham and Manchester City in the derby – it wasn't the sleigh bells that were ringing. 

Some might have been content with two points, yet they've managed to take six and left City's title defence in tatters after a 2-1 win over the champions.

Much of the build-up was dominated by 'we're back' talk among both sets of supporters. City had crushed Burnley comprehensively, while United produced arguably their best display under Solskjaer in a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Saturday's performance left no such room for argument – it was undoubtedly the greatest of his tenure. 

So much of the Norwegian's time at the helm has been mired by worryingly erratic form – one week they barely manage to salvage a draw against Villa, showing a concerning lack of desire, and then follow that up with a genuinely laudable performance at home to a resurgent Spurs.

Such inconsistency has understandably led to questions over Solskjaer's game-management, with United frequently struggling against opposition that sit back despite boasting a solid record of only two defeats in 11 meetings with 'big-six' opponents and Leicester City before the derby.

Solskjaer did little wrong on Saturday, however.

A devastating first half an hour showed just how good this United team can be, particularly going forward.

The fluid front three of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial was electric, while the much-maligned Jesse Lingard showed the kind of technique and drive not seen from him for a long, long time.

United's strengths are by no means a secret – they are blessed with immense pace in attack and are at their best hitting teams on the counter.

City fell into a trap entirely of United's making.

The midfield pair of Scott McTominay and Fred sat extremely deep, while the front four also dropped well back, essentially becoming a second midfield. As such, the gap between United's defence and attack was often minimal, allowing them to break as a unit.

The dynamism and agility of United's attack was plain to see for both goals – firstly Rashford driving into the box and winning the penalty that he converted, before James and Martial linked for the Frenchman's well-worked goal.

But United's effectiveness was about more than just three players running really, really fast. Defensively they had several players who were imperious.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka dealt with Raheem Sterling impressively, making five tackles and seven clearances in a fine display, while McTominay was similarly impressive. The Scotland international won possession back via three tackles, three interceptions and came out on top in 81.3 per cent of the 16 duels he was involved in.

Added to that, Fred enjoyed his best match for United, creating two chances and showing a general awareness that could rarely be associated with the Brazilian previously. On this evidence, you can begin to understand why Pep Guardiola had been so keen to bring him to City.

City's second-half desperation predictably saw United come under pressure and, for a moment it looked like the Red Devils would yet again cave and throw away a lead after Nicolas Otamendi pulled one back.

But it wasn't to be.

While reservations over Solskjaer's suitability for the role will remain as long as his team continue to falter against teams they should beat, there's no doubt in his ability to squeeze every last drop out of his players in the big games.

And in the biggest of matches, United rose to the occasion to leave City 14 points adrift of the summit, their title hopes torn to shreds like so much festive wrapping paper. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tasted sweet victory in the derby as his Manchester United side stunned Manchester City with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium.

United were brilliant in the first half, as impressive as they have been in the 12 months of their Norwegian manager's tenure, and a penalty from Marcus Rashford followed by Anthony Martial's sharp finish made it their day. A late Nicolas Otamendi header could not save the hosts.

City now sit 14 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, hopes of defending their title surely all but extinguished by this result. Questions will be asked of Pep Guardiola's leadership, and how he has allowed their defence to become such a weakness.

But for Solskjaer, months of speculation about his job security can be swept aside for now. After beating Jose Mourinho's Tottenham on Wednesday and following up with a terrific performance against their 'noisy neighbours', United suddenly look a team to be reckoned with.

United's first three attempts all forced Ederson to make sharp saves, the goalkeeper denying Daniel James from the edge of the penalty area, then a lively Jesse Lingard and the marauding Martial.

And with City in disarray at the back, the fast-breaking visitors were handed a penalty after a VAR review when Rashford went down following a mazy run, sideswiped by a clumsy Bernardo Silva challenge.

Rashford slotted low and into the right corner for the 23rd-minute opener, and the England striker went close twice in the next four minutes: firstly, when stroking a shot just wide after City's defence was unpicked by a high-pace counter-attack, and then with a 20-yard curling shot that hit the crossbar.

Martial gave United the two-goal lead they richly deserved in the 29th minute when he swivelled and cracked a low, left-footed shot in off the base of the right post, after working the chance patiently with James.

City striker Gabriel Jesus might have narrowed the lead before half-time but headed wastefully wide from Kevin De Bruyne's cross, before the hosts were aggrieved to be denied a spot-kick by referee Anthony Taylor when Fred appeared to handle a cross.

Guardiola made his annoyance known in a passionate appeal to fourth official Mike Dean before the second half began.

United centre-back Victor Lindelof made a superb intervention to thwart De Bruyne soon after the restart, deflecting the Belgian's thumping shot over the crossbar.

Fred was struck by an object thrown from home supporters and appeared to suffer racist abuse from the same section.

Otamendi headed in an 85th-minute City consolation and fellow substitute Riyad Mahrez went close to a leveller moments later, denied by a fine save by David de Gea, but this was emphatically United's day.

 

What does it mean? A great day for the Red Devils, but a better one for the Reds

United have toiled and looked shambolic on occasion this season, the Premier League's once-dominant club becoming the subject of ridicule at times. But here they were terrific, a formidable attacking force in the opening half an hour and a disciplined unit thereafter. The one negative, from their fans' point of view, is that this result comes as a huge boost to arch-rivals Liverpool. Maybe Leicester City are the only team that can deny Jurgen Klopp's side now.

Angelino heaven-sent for United

Guardiola put huge faith in Angelino by starting the 22-year-old at left-back, ahead of the benched Benjamin Mendy. It turned into a gift of a selection for United, who found space in abundance behind the heavily tattooed Spaniard, James revelling in the space.

City's manager came into this season believing his defensive ranks were adequately stacked, but how wrong he was. Every team suffers injuries, and City's repeated buckling at the back this season points to neglect of that department.

What's next?

City wrap up their Champions League group campaign with a trip to face Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, having already secured top spot. United, sure to advance to the knock-out rounds, face Dutch side AZ in their final Europa League group game on Thursday. Both Manchester giants then return to Premier League action next Sunday, with City travelling to Arsenal and United at home to Everton.

Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw have come into the Manchester United team for a crunch derby against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.

Forward Martial takes the place of young striker Mason Greenwood, while Shaw steps in at left-back for Ashley Young.

Both Greenwood and Young were named as substitutes by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It means United will start with Martial in attack along with Marcus Rashford, who scored both his side's goals in the 2-1 win over Tottenham on Wednesday, and Daniel James.

With captain Young out of the starting XI, Harry Maguire takes the armband for the visitors.

City boss Pep Guardiola has made a single alteration to the side that trounced Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday, as England defender John Stones replaces Nicolas Otamendi, who begins on the bench.

United sit eighth in the Premier League and are in desperate need of following one strong performance with another, to show they can produce consistently under Solskjaer's much-scrutinised leadership.

Reigning champions City, meanwhile, begin the game a distant 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who were resounding 3-0 winners at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

It's March 2016. Excitement and expectation are through the roof for one particular teenager ahead of his first Manchester derby.

The local lad had already risen to the occasion in the Europa League and against Arsenal, but this was a far bigger deal for the 18-year-old who'd grown up a Manchester United fan.

Marcus Rashford started in attack with Antony Martial and their pace and mobility proving a lethal combination, particularly with respect to the former.

Highlighting his ice-cold mentality on the big stage, Rashford was decisive. Roasting Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis in the 16th minute, the striker nutmegged him at pace and left the experienced centre-back for dead before clinically dispatching past Joe Hart.

If onlookers hadn't sat up and taken notice already after his heroics against Arsenal and Midtjylland, they were now. Rashford proved he was no mere flash in the pan.

A leader's mentality

Since that bright debut derby, Rashford has gone on to feature another seven times against City and he'll be desperate to leave is mark in Saturday's clash. It is the sort of occasion that has started to typify his status as a big-game player with an elite mentality.

Rashford's most recent Manchester derby came in April, as City comfortably dispatched of United 2-0 at Old Trafford. It was this encounter that seemed to suggest their wretched form after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent appointment was anything but a blip.

More than anyone, Rashford was scathing of United.

"It was quite clear who the better team was," Rashford said to Sky Sports. "We didn't play like Man United and the last few weeks it hasn't felt like Man United. It's not right. The bare minimum should be to work hard and give your all for the supporters and the badge.

"We need the mentality and willingness of running for your team. We never call each other out but we have to be real with each other. It's a matter of trying to improve each other."

While some may have put Rashford's comments down to 'holier than thou' posturing in an attempt to win a new contract, which duly arrived in July, there's little doubt he is now the talisman that should be speaking out.

Motivation an issue?

Rashford has become the player many fans are still hoping Martial will develop into. With nine goals in 15 Premier League matches, the England international is already just one behind his personal best for a full campaign.

With 12 goals in his past 13 matches for club and country, Rashford is in the form of his life – yet even as recently as this season he has been a target for criticism.

It has been suggested he struggles to make the difference against opponents who sit back, the games United are expected to control and data backs this up.

In 85 matches against teams not in the current top four or traditionally part of the so-called 'big six', Rashford has scored just 19 times, an average of one every 275.9 minutes.

It's a record that does raise valid concerns – after all, the best strikers score against pretty much everyone and anyone.

At home on the big stage

But what highlights Rashford's true ability and gives a clear insight to his mindset is the forward's record against the biggest clubs.

In 41 Premier League meetings against the 'big six' and Leicester, he has an impressive haul of 17 goals, one every 163.4 minutes.

Rashford's effectiveness in front of goal increases remarkably in such matches. Even though his shot frequency goes down from one every 28.8 minutes to 39.1 minutes, his accuracy is boosted significantly.

Against the biggest sides, Rashford's shot accuracy rises to 48 per cent from 40 per cent, while his chance conversion increases from 10 per cent to 24 per cent.

Rashford proved his decisiveness last time out against Tottenham and former manager Jose Mourinho, who often did little good for his confidence.

He suggested United generally do better against teams who don't invite pressure on to themselves – backed up by the fact they've only lost two of 11 matches against the rest of the 'big six' and Leicester.

And with a City side that hasn't kept a clean sheet in the Premier League for nearly two months next up, Rashford has another chance to prove any lingering doubters he's worthy of being regarded United's new talisman.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted the Red Devils are still a bigger club than two-time reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

United are 20-time English champions but they have not won the title since 2012-13, with neighbours City taking centre stage.

Since 2013, City have won three Premier League trophies and Pep Guardiola's men are eyeing a three-peat this season as United struggle.

But Solskjaer – whose side are 11 points behind City – talked up United ahead of Saturday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

Asked if United remain a bigger club than City, Solskjaer told reporters: "Yeah."

Solskjaer – a six-time Premier League winner with United after joining in 1996, months following City's relegation – added: "At least we play every year now! It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself.

"But it's changed in a way. Of course Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. I think football has changed quite a lot. I think it allowed a few more proper tackles - with every little angle, everything being scrutinised now, it's more of a technical, tactical game than physical and mental one.

"But, still, a derby should be played as a derby. We don't play basketball, so we're ready for that if that happens."

Solskjaer is hoping to build on United's 2-1 victory over Tottenham with another big performance against City.

Pressure is on City to keep up with unbeaten Premier League leaders Liverpool, who are eight points clear atop the summit after 15 matches, while United are sixth.

"I don't want to put any feelings into any other teams or managers," said Solskjaer. "We might not want them to be scared of us, we might want them to be arrogant and confident.

"For me, as a player as well, you don't have to shout the loudest to throw the sucker punch, it's not about shouting the loudest, it's about doing the talking on the pitch.

"City had an unbelievable season last year and are now trailing the teams in front of them as well. They haven't had the results of last season but they're still the best team in the league when they're playing the way they can."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has urged striker Gabriel Jesus to have the belief he can be a derby day hero on Saturday.

With Sergio Aguero still absent due to a thigh injury, much of City's goalscoring burden in their clash with Manchester United will fall upon the shoulders of the Brazil international.

Jesus ended a 10-game goal drought for club and country with a brace in City's 4-1 win over Burnley on Tuesday, which has boosted his confidence.

The 22-year-old has failed to find the net in his four appearances in the Manchester derby – three of which have come from the bench - but Guardiola has confidence in the forward's ability.

"He has to be himself – we need his goals. That’s why we won the last game,” the City boss said at his news conference ahead of the clash with United.

“We need him and his goals, if he puts this idea in his head he can do it every game.

"Confidence has to be there in the heads, not because of good or bad performances, winning or losing games. Not just him, all the players."

Guardiola claimed the mental strength of his squad is still strong even though they find themselves 11 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

"There are some things that are undeniable, the mentality and how strong they are," he said.

"We have to learn, with all athletes, he would not be in the high level [he is] and playing if he didn't have quality.

"They can control it, they don't need the manager to speak to them, they have to believe they are good enough and show how good they are.

"All the time it's there, if they score goals the confidence rises, if a keeper doesn't concede goals the confidence rises."

City are 11 points of ahead of sixth-placed United, who beat former manager Jose Mourinho's Tottenham side at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Guardiola believes counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing a "good job" at United and will have them side fired up for the Etihad Stadium showdown.

"The history is huge and the quality of players they have has always been there and we have to try to beat them," he added.

"They are incredibly fast up front and at set pieces with Harry Maguire, they have the physicality and aggression. I have a good impression.

"It's an important game against a good rival with a big history. We play against a good team to try to follow the performance from the last game.

"It's Man United, all respect to what they have done for English, European and world football."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged Marcus Rashford to maintain his impressive scoring form as he urged Manchester United to show consistency in Saturday's derby.

United head to the Etihad Stadium with renewed belief following their 2-1 midweek win over Tottenham but will again be without the injured Paul Pogba, who has not played since September.

Anthony Martial will be available, albeit potentially from the bench, as United seek to make a dent in Manchester City's title aspirations.

Rashford scored both goals against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, having found net the freely since mid-October.

His pace on the counter will be crucial to United's hopes of breaking down a side that has not kept a clean sheet in eight attempts, and manager Solskjaer backed the England international to continue blossoming as a reliable goalscorer.

"He's doing that at the moment," said the United boss.

"How he didn't get the goal against Aston Villa is beyond me but he's consistently scoring now. It's not like four in one and two or three without. It's not just in spurts and that's encouraging.

"He's consistently getting chances and getting into better positions. On Wednesday he was unbelievable and we want to see that again."

Solskjaer sought to extract the same response from Rashford's team-mates after United ended a three-match winless streak with the Old Trafford triumph over Tottenham.

United have not won consecutive Premier League matches since March.

"We're going away against arguably the best team in England, so of course it's going to be a difficult game but we need consistency," Solskjaer said.

"I said it before the Tottenham game, everyone was doom and gloom, but it's a chance to turn that doubt into belief and for us, if we can manage to get another performance, the confidence [will grow].

"The way we played against Tottenham, if we can do that at the Etihad I'm sure we can come out of it with a result.

"People say: 'Why do you not have better results in other games?' But the Premier League is hard, no matter who you play, it's margins. I think it's a compliment to the league."

Solskjaer said he hoped midfielder Pogba would return from his long-running ankle injury before the end of December.

Pep Guardiola prevailed in his maiden managerial meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and would dearly love another win on Saturday to remain in sight of Liverpool.

Manchester City did that with a routine 4-1 win at Burnley on Tuesday but their bitter rivals and next opponents perhaps took more from the midweek fixtures.

In overcoming Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, Manchester United shed a poor run of results and laid down some sort of marker for what is possible for a team that was in mid-table.

But with what Solskjaer described as his side's best display for a "long time" comes the need for another step forward at the Etihad Stadium.

 

CAN UNITED MAKE IT TWO STEPS FORWARD?

"We dominated the game and could have, should have finished the game there and then," Solskjaer side of United's first half against Tottenham.

They eventually completed the job against the Champions League finalists but what lies ahead is a tougher test and a true measure of the Norwegian's tactical acumen.

Daniel James and Marcus Rashford joined Mason Greenwood in attack on Wednesday and should in theory have the pace to trouble City on the break, much as Wolves did in October.

Rashford scored twice against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, a sharp improvement on his lean start to the season.

City, meanwhile, were back closer to their best in the convincing victory over Burnley but have failed to keep a clean sheet in eight games in all competitions.

Can the ageing Fernandinho cope alongside either John Stones, who professes not to know which games he will start, or the error-prone Nicolas Otamendi?

The man tasked with screening the defence could help, particularly as he faces a key midfield battle.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: RODRI V SCOTT MCTOMINAY

Rodri's thunderous strike at Turf Moor will have done wonders for the Spaniard's confidence ahead of his first Manchester derby.

The 23-year-old close-season recruit has had a bigger part to play in his first Premier League campaign than perhaps even Guardiola would have expected, in part due to Fernandinho's move into defence.

Rodri's ability on the ball was obvious before his arrival in England and it is of little surprise that his passing accuracy (91.73 per cent) is superior to the man he is set to meet in the centre of the Etihad Stadium pitch, Scott McTominay.

McTominay's average sits at 78.74 per cent but his importance to United was obvious as he helped the Red Devils end a three-game winless streak when returning from an ankle injury.

The Scotland international offers more in a box-to-box sense and has scored three goals to Rodri's two from the same number of appearances (13), while attempting 20 shots to his counterpart's seven.

That, though, is generally where his statistical superiority ends. Despite playing 178 more minutes, McTominay has managed just one more tackle and two more interceptions than Rodri.

The latter also boasts a better duel success rate (62.41 per cent to 55.74) and has laid on an extra seven scoring chances.

FORM GUIDE

City returned to winning ways against the Clarets after drawing on the road at Newcastle United, a result that left them 11 points adrift of Liverpool.

The club's record over their past 10 top-flight matches now reads seven victories, one draw and two defeats, those coming against Wolves and leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

United head across town fresh from a morale-boosting reunion with former manager Mourinho but have issues to rectify against fellow 'big six' teams.

They have won one of their past five away to such opposition and weaknesses were evident in recent trips to Bournemouth and Sheffield United, which reaped a solitary point.

HISTORY SAYS...

Guardiola's record in the Manchester derby makes for cheery reading for City supporters.

The champions prevailed 2-0 at Old Trafford in April, the Catalan's seventh win from 11 meetings with the team across town.

Another victory would see him become the club's second manager, after Manuel Pellegrini, to notch up three in a row against United in the Premier League.

The Red Devils do, however, hold the superior head-to-head record: 21 wins to City's 15, with the points split on eight occasions.

Liverpool cruised to a 5-2 victory in the Merseyside derby against Everton as they consolidated their lead at the top of the Premier League, despite a much-changed team.

Meanwhile, Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho endured an unhappy return to Old Trafford as his side lost 2-1 to Manchester United - the Portuguese has not won there as a visiting boss in his past five attempts.

Defending champions Manchester City thrashed Burnley 4-1 as Pep Guardiola made it eight wins in his nine games against the Clarets.

A midweek round of Premier League fixtures brought a range of milestones and telling stats, the best of which are below.

KLOPP ECLIPSES SHANKLY, PAISLEY AND DALGLISH 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will likely need to deliver the Premier League title to secure his place in the pantheon of Anfield greats.

However, the German has put down a few markers suggesting he is ready to join the Kop's hall of fame by becoming the fastest Liverpool manager to 100 league victories. Klopp completed the feat in 159 games – quicker than Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool secured the win over Everton thanks to a brace from Divock Origi, and one goal apiece for Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum.

They are now unbeaten in their past 32 Premier League games which is their longest run without defeat in top-flight history.

Marco Silva's final match at the helm saw him become the first Everton manager to concede five league goals against Liverpool in a single match since Howard Kendall in November 1982.

 

MORE OF THE SAME FOR MOURINHO 

United's 2-1 win over Tottenham, secured courtesy of two goals from Marcus Rashford – taking his tally to nine in 10 games – made Mourinho's return to his old club a miserable one.

Mourinho has won none of his past five away Premier League matches against the Red Devils (D3 L2), failing to beat four different managers in that time – Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It was also Tottenham 35th Premier League defeat against United – more than they have suffered against any other team. 

Spurs' defence must also be a concern for Mourinho. They have conceded twice in their four matches in all competitions under the Portuguese – they only had a run of conceding two or more goals in four consecutive games once under Mauricio Pochettino, doing so in February and March 2015.

Midfielder Dele Alli has started to rediscover some of his old form, though, and his equaliser for Spurs was his third goal in as many appearances for the club in all competitions – the first time since March 2017 he has enjoyed such a purple patch.

 

CITY THREE AND EASY UNDER PEP

Gabriel Jesus' brace and one apiece for midfielders Rodri and Riyad Mahrez gave City some much-needed confidence with a 4-1 thrashing of Burnley – although they remain 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jesus is now the third highest-scoring Brazilian player in Premier League history (32 goals), trailing only Philippe Coutinho (41) and Roberto Firmino (52).

It was the 36th time City have won a Premier League game by three or more goals under Guardiola – the most of any team in the competition since the start of the 2016-17 season.

David Silva's creative skills remain key for City and he took his tally to six assists from open play in the league this season – just one fewer than he managed in 33 games last season.

Burnley have now conceded 11 goals in their three home games against 'big six' opposition in the Premier League this season, compared to only two goals in five home games against the rest.

 

LJUNGBERG'S LOSS A DROUGHT-BREAKING BOOST FOR BRIGHTON

Managerless, beaten at home by Brighton and Hove Albion and now nine games without victory in all competitions – Gunners fans have every right to be gloomy.

Arsenal's 2-1 loss to the Seagulls made this their longest winless streak since a run of 10 between February and March of 1977.

Mesut Ozil registered his first assist in the league since February when his corner was met by Alexandre Lacazette, but the French forward's 25th English top-flight goal at Emirates Stadium failed to avert a first defeat for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Adam Webster had opened the scoring before the interval and Brighton were able to celebrate their first Premier League away win over 'big six' opposition following Neal Maupay's 80th-minute header.

Arsenal, booed off at full-time, have faced 52 shots on target in home league games this season, four more than in the entire Invincibles campaign of 2003-04.

Dele Alli put Tottenham's disappointing performance in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United down to arrogance borne out of the winning start they had made to Jose Mourinho's tenure.

Mourinho was appointed as Mauricio Pochettino's successor last month and had overseen three successive victories in his first three matches at the helm.

Wednesday brought Mourinho's first return to Old Trafford as a manager since he was sacked by the club in December 2018, but Spurs failed to continue their recent resurgence.

Marcus Rashford produced a talismanic display for the Red Devils, scoring both of their goals either side of a spectacular strike from Alli, who arguably more than anyone else has been re-energised by Mourinho's hiring.

But Alli's goal aside, Spurs created precious few clear-cut opportunities and were fortunate to be on level terms at half-time, with the former MK Dons talent suggesting Tottenham had begun to believe their own hype following three wins on the bounce.

"We had to match their [United's] energy. We lost the game not by them outplaying us – just attitude," the England international told reporters.

"We weren't hungry enough and we were slow to every second ball, losing 50-50s. Maybe it was a little bit of arrogance and over-confidence. We’ve been playing well.

"We have to learn from this. Games like this bring your feet back down."

Victory moved United up to sixth and provided manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a much-needed boost ahead of Saturday's Manchester derby at bitter rivals and champions Manchester City.

Spurs slipped down to eighth with the defeat.

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