Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a "fantastic" winning goal from Paul Pogba at Fulham but refused to be drawn on Manchester United's chances of winning the Premier League.

United returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage after Manchester City briefly moved to the summit a 2-0 win over Aston Villa earlier on Wednesday.

Ademola Lookman capitalised on poor United defending to give Fulham an early lead, but Edinson Cavani equalised in the first half and Pogba won it with a stunning left-foot strike after 65 minutes.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in 17 away games in the top flight, matching their longest ever run set back in 1999, and lead City by two points, although their neighbours have a game in hand.

United again showed their character to mount a fightback and have won seven Premier League games this season after going behind.

Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I think we started slow but after their goal I felt we played well. We needed to wake up and after that we played really well.

"We don't do offsides really, we should follow the run. We had not woken up but good reaction."

Pogba has scored the winner in two of United's last three games after coming in from the cold and Solskjaer is pleased with the progress the France midfielder has made.

"It was a fantastic goal by Paul and we had some other chances to finish the game but of course when it is just one goal and the players they put on it is going to be like heart in your mouth," said the United boss.

"He [Pogba] has really come on. He is fit, he can play in midfield and he can play wide. That is key with Paul, getting him match fit and running fit and he is at the moment. He played very well."

It is now 13 Premier League games without defeat for United, but Solskjaer again fended off talk of a title challenge.

The former United and Norway striker said: "It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league.

"But we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time. It is such an unpredictable season."

Paul Pogba will continue to play with a smile on his face as long as Manchester United keep winning, he explained after another decisive Premier League strike.

United reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday, moving back ahead of Leicester City and Manchester City after their wins over Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men triumphed having conceded first away from home for the seventh time in seven attempts this term with Pogba striking the winner after Edinson Cavani had cancelled out Ademola Lookman's early opener.

Pogba's effort was a fine left-footed blast from outside the area, his first league effort with his weaker foot from this range since January 2015 when he was still at Juventus.

It was a goal the midfielder revelled in, as he told BT Sport: "I hit it well. I didn't expect the left foot would be like this, but we try.

"If you don't shoot, you don't know what's going to happen. I'm really glad that the ball went in. It was a beautiful goal and a beautiful victory - that's the most important."

That strike marked the second time this month Pogba has fired United to victory, also netting the only goal at Burnley.

Yet he has also missed big chances - opportunities Opta would expect him to score - against Aston Villa and Liverpool since the start of 2021, with a wasteful attempt at Anfield on Sunday costing United two points.

Explaining his emotions after responding with a big goal, Pogba said: "It's not like I apologised, but I was really mad; I was really mad that I was close to the goal and maybe I should have done better.

"Today it went in so I'm really happy for that. The most important is that we had the win today, because it was a hard one, a very mature one.

"We had to defend and we knew it would be like this. We knew it and we've done it the hard way, the beautiful way. It's beautiful to win like that."

The broadcaster suggested Pogba, maligned for much of his United career, looked to be enjoying himself on the pitch in an all-action display that included more passes (80) and more passes in the opposition half (56) than any other player while leading the Red Devils in tackles (four), interceptions (three) and possession gains (nine).

"I love winning," he replied. "It's all about winning. I will always be happy when I win and I will always be happy when I'm on the pitch.

"Today we won, so I'm happy; the day we lose, I will be angry again. This is me."

And United cannot afford any slip-ups, with City, who have played a game fewer, and Leicester just two points back.

"We just know that we have to get our result. We knew we had to win and that's it," Pogba said.

"It's the Premier League, so you know it's always hard. It will never be easy. These are big teams as well, very close on points, so we have to do us. That's it."

Paul Pogba is 20 per cent short of his physical peak and still has so much more to give Manchester United, says the club's former striker Louis Saha.

A revived Pogba has been crucial to United going on a 12-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

He scored in last week's win over Burnley and earned praise from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for playing in an unfamiliar right-wing role in Sunday's 0-0 draw against Liverpool.

That point against the champions at Anfield kept United top of the table, with this being the first time they have held that status at this stage of a season since Alex Ferguson's final campaign in charge.

"I still think he is got a good 20 per cent [more] to give to the team, fitness-wise," Saha told United's website about Pogba.

"He had to recover from COVID-19, he had to fight a lot to be back technically to where he can be.

"Tactically, now with the two sitting midfielders it allows him to bomb forward, whether he's on the left or the right.

"I think he's done really well to read the game better. He has to be a pain for the opposition. 

"Sitting too deep is not good for him, but sitting too high is not good either.

"He needs to have that drive to allow him to bombard and give us another option other than Bruno Fernandes. I think it's a good balance."

The draw with Liverpool was not always pretty, but Saha was encouraged by what he saw.

The two-time Premier League-winning Frenchman added: "You need to make sure you hang in there and are tough to beat, that is the main thing.

"You could see the spirit of the guys [on Sunday], the things that we want to see week in, week out.

"We know they have the talent and, when on song, they can do the magic, but this is the foundation that needs to come. Then you have all the confidence to express yourself.

"The lack of organisation before, the lack of confidence, maybe fitness, all this combined was the reason why we were not able to compete but I think it was a good response.

"If you look at how far we’ve come since Ole joined, you can see those players getting more and more direction – concrete decision-making – which is what made us very proud on Sunday I think."

Next up for United is an away game against Fulham on Wednesday.

Dimitar Berbatov hopes the "soap opera" surrounding Paul Pogba's future is at an end after becoming increasingly influential for Manchester United.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola revealed in December - with a crucial Champions League clash with RB Leipzig looming on the horizon - that he expected the Frenchman to leave Old Trafford in 2021, albeit not during the January transfer window.

The midfielder, who is under contract until 2022, has by no means been a regular starter this season, though his impact on the team has grown considerably in recent weeks.

His winning goal against Burnley sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side top of the Premier League - a position they retained on Sunday thanks to a 0-0 draw away at reigning champions Liverpool.

Pogba was unable to take a late opportunity at Anfield that could have secured all three points, yet former Red Devil Berbatov has been impressed by what he has seen from a player he knows well.

"It's been a long time since I've seen him open on the pitch fighting, intercepting, reading the game," Berbatov told Stats Perform News.

"In the game against Liverpool, again, he continued on that trend for me. He was solid on the pitch again, trying to read and control the game, defending and intercepting.

"The chance that fell to him was because he was again in the box trying to score, though it didn't happen this time. Next time, it's going to happen.

"But as I said many times before, I hope that the TV soap opera over him - whether he's going or staying - is going to end, and we're not going to speak about that.

"I would like him to stay because I knew him back in the day, he was coming to train with us when he was still very young. You could see the talent straight away.

"If he's concentrated 100 per cent for the team, then he's on a level I think not many players can reach in the way he does."

United did not manage a shot on target in the first half against Liverpool, the first time they had failed to do so in a Premier League fixture since December 2019.

However, they posed a far greater attacking threat as the game wore on, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes drawing smart saves out of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson after the break.

For Berbatov, the crucial aspect for the visitors was not to be beaten by potential title rivals.

"United had a good game, a solid game. I think I said before the game to a couple of reporters that for them it was going to be important not to lose," said the Bulgarian, who won the Premier League twice during his time at United.

"They had good chances to score in the game as well, especially Pogba. That chance was probably the best one in the game, one where I was almost screaming, but it didn't happen.

"But it was a solid performance, especially in defence, tactically the discipline was there on the pitch. As I said, a couple of chances to score came up, as well.

"Probably, if you look from the perspective of a neutral, you can say that the draw was okay for both teams."

Roy Keane thought Manchester United’s defence-first approach at Anfield deserved praise, even though he was frustrated with a missed Paul Pogba chance.

Despite Liverpool fielding midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in defence, United surrendered possession and territory on Sunday in a top-of-the-table Premier League clash. 

It finished goalless, with the draw taking Premier League leaders United onto 37 points, keeping them three clear of the champions.

After a fast start from Liverpool, the match settled into a tense affair. The hosts had 17 attempts – nine more than United – yet only managed three on target.

It was the third league game in succession in which Liverpool have failed to score, with Jurgen Klopp's side without a top-flight win since they thrashed Crystal Palace 7-0 before Christmas.

United, who managed four efforts on target to the hosts' three, had the chances to snatch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first league win over Liverpool, who had goalkeeper Alisson to thank for a string of impressive stops in the second half.

Arguably United's best chance fell to Paul Pogba, but the France star – employed in an unfamiliar right-wing role – struck straight at Alisson from close range.

Though United great Keane was left frustrated by the failure to take full advantage of Liverpool's mini-malaise, he believed his old club deserved credit for a resilient rearguard performance.

Keane told Sky Sports: "The big opportunity is the [Pogba] chance. You can tell by his reaction. His first touch is excellent, my goodness, he has to score. Go anywhere, across the goalkeeper, but not straight at him.

"Because his first touch was so good he's given himself that opportunity to go across the goalkeeper – a huge moment in the season for United. Credit to the goalkeeper, he's stood up, but that's the moment they might've been praying for before the game.

"It's easier said than done [to come out of defence]. We knew Liverpool would be quick out of the blocks, they haven't played for nine days.

"United were always going to be on the back foot for the first half-an-hour. They were sloppy in some of their play. You knew United would get the opportunities, it was a case of whether they could take them.

"You can't say Liverpool have played badly, but they've lost their spark, definitely, and when you get the opportunities like Pogba did, it's so disappointing. We've been giving Pogba a big build-up, we've been quick to criticise him but that was a moment for him to say he wants to be the main man, you've got to take that chance.

"I wouldn't be too critical of United, I thought they showed a good mentality."

Scott McTominay and Fred both made a game-high five tackles for United, while Victor Lindelof – preferred to Eric Bailly alongside Harry Maguire – made 10 clearances, more than any other player.

Though disappointing going forward (he lost possession more times than anybody else), Pogba managed to keep Andy Robertson under wraps, and gained back the ball nine times, behind only Trent Alexander-Arnold (11) and Thiago Alcantara (10).

"I thought the back four, which always worries me, were brilliant," Keane continued.

"I know they gave up one or two chances in the first half-an-hour. [Luke] Shaw was brilliant defensively and going forward. When I look at the couple of chances United created, they still created the best chances in the game. Huge moments."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Manchester United missed an opportunity against Liverpool after they played out a 0-0 draw with the champions on Sunday.

Premier League leaders United maintained a three-point advantage over their Anfield hosts after an uneventful encounter, as they stretched their unbeaten away league run to 16 matches.

Liverpool had 66 per cent of the possession and 17 shots to United's eight, but they rarely had visiting goalkeeper David de Gea troubled.

Indeed, United had the best two chances in the second half, with Alisson saving from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to preserve the Reds' unbeaten home record in the top flight which has now reached 68 games.

Solskjaer thought his side did not show enough composure in possession and was disappointed they did not do more to test a makeshift centre-back pairing of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Asked if United deserved to win, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "No, we didn't, because I don't think we played well enough. We didn't impose ourselves on the game, especially first half.

"I think we grew into the game and at the end, you felt 'yeah, it's here for us to win'. We created two massive chances and two brilliant saves by the keeper.

"We can play better than this – we know that. We can be more composed, have the ball more.

"We had to defend really often and I thought we gave the ball away too often, maybe some moments we missed, when Marcus [Rashford] makes his runs in behind, maybe sometimes we don't pass it every time he runs and sometimes we missed it when he should have had it. [There are] a couple of things to improve on.

"I've got to be honest and say I'm a bit disappointed at the moment. We're playing against a fantastic team and they had more of the possession, but still, you want to go here, you know the injuries they've had lately, you think you can go here and get a result. We didn't, but a point might be okay if we win the next one."

When asked if United should have been braver, Solskjaer replied: "It depends on what you mean with bravery, in team selection or on the ball. I think we could have been better on the ball, been more quality, but I'd probably start with the same team, if that's what you're asking.

"I know we can play better but we're still coming away with a point, which I think shows how far we've come in a year or even six months.

"Of course it's a positive, you take a point, but you want to win every game so you can't be sat or standing here smiling too much. But we go again. We know we can do better than this, which is the big positive."

Pogba's late opening was the best chance of the game, the France midfielder firing straight at Alisson after being set up by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

It was otherwise a strong performance from United's record signing, who attempted more passes in the opposition half (22) than any team-mate and regained possession a joint-high nine times from an unorthodox role on the right wing.

"I think Paul was absolutely brilliant," said Solskjaer. "We knew he had to do a job defensively, block and help us with [Andy] Robertson, and I thought he was excellent and he should have got the goal his performance deserved."

Xherdan Shaqiri surprisingly starts for Liverpool in their top-of-the-table clash with rivals Manchester United at Anfield. 

The Swiss set up two goals after coming off the bench in last weekend's FA Cup win at Aston Villa and has earned himself a place in the XI against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as a result. 

Jurgen Klopp has gone with a forward-thinking 4-2-3-1 formation in order to fit Shaqiri into the team. 

However, centre-back Joel Matip misses out despite resuming training this week after overcoming a groin injury. 

Klopp has instead opted for Jordan Henderson to partner Fabinho in central defence, with youngsters Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips overlooked. 

Although the Reds name a midfield without their club captain, they are able to give Thiago Alcantara his Anfield debut, four months on from his arrival. 

As for United, they make three changes to the side that earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Burnley in midweek. 

Nemanja Matic, Eric Bailly and Edinson Cavani make way to be replaced by Scott McTominay, Victor Lindelof and Fred, meaning Paul Pogba keeps his place after scoring the winner at Turf Moor. 

Anthony Martial is fit to start having been described as an injury doubt in the build-up.

 

Will a Juventus-Paul Pogba reunion become a reality?

The future of Manchester United star continues to dominate headlines.

A move back to Turin could be on the cards for Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO MAKE POGBA OFFER

Serie A champions Juventus will try to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United at the end of the season, according to the Calciomercato.

Pogba appears set to leave United following the 2020-21 campaign after his agent Mino Raiola claimed the French midfielder was unhappy in Manchester.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but Juve, who signed Pogba from United in 2012 before losing him to the Red Devils four years later, want to bring the World Cup winner back to Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be given £200million to spend on new players in the next transfer window. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku are on the list of potential targets, as well as Benfica's Darwin Nunez amid doubts over Sergio Aguero 's future. Haaland has also been linked with neighbours United , Madrid , Barca , Liverpool and Juve .

Bayern Munich are interested in Madrid defender Eder Militao , claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Bayern look to replace David Alaba , who is set to leave the Bundesliga champions on a free transfer. Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid .

Milan  are close to re-signing star pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu , says Tuttosport. Corriere dello Sport reports Milan are also nearing a deal to sign veteran forward Mario Mandzukic .

- The Athletic claims Mesut Ozil is poised to leave Arsenal for Turkish giants Fenerbahce after reaching an agreement in principle to terminate his Gunners contract.

- The Transfer Window Podcast claims Madrid are considering the possibility of using Eden Hazard in a deal to lure Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Memphis Depay has been strongly tipped to move to Barca , however, Ok Diario reports the Lyon captain could join Madrid following Luka Jovic's loan return to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Paul Pogba feels the Premier League is clearly the best in the world as he outlined the scale of the challenge facing Manchester United in the title race.

The World Cup winner is relishing United sitting top of the table after 17 games.

Pogba's winner against Burnley on Tuesday put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team top of the standings at this stage of campaign for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season.

The midfielder explained fighting for the biggest trophies is why he returned to the club from Juventus in 2016.

While his agent Mino Raiola has said Pogba wants to leave United, he believes the division his current club play in is tougher than those he would be in if he joined reported suitors Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid.

"That's why I came here," Pogba said to Sky Sports about United's return to the top of the league ahead of Sunday's crucial away game with Liverpool.

"That's why I came back here. It was to go and win.

"Obviously when you come you want to win straight away. But things happen. You try to build, and sometimes things happen you didn't expect, but it's for a good reason. 

"Maybe this year we can win it, who knows? It made us improve, know about ourselves, get more experience, so everything happened for a reason.

"In my head you always want to win the first year, second year, the third year, but it's not as easy as it seems.

"You have teams that have been great as well, our neighbours [Manchester City] have been great.

"Everyone is building teams, buying top players, so obviously this league is the best league in the world, and you know it's not going to be easy."

Pogba form key to United revival

After a difficult start to the season, Pogba's return to form has been important to a United side heavily reliant on the production of Bruno Fernandes.

Pogba previously conceded he was struggling with his recovery from coronavirus and a long-term injury absence in the early stages of the season.

Opta data highlights his level of improvement, which started with the spectacular goal in a comeback win over West Ham on December 5, a performance that came just before Raiola's remarks caused fervent transfer speculation.

From that West Ham game, Pogba has two goals and nine created chances in seven appearances and six starts.

He is averaging 65 passes and 55 completed passes per 90 minutes during that period, second only to Nemanja Matic for United, while his 7.7 recoveries per game ranks fourth among outfield players.

After being in and out the team earlier in the campaign, Pogba has played 576 minutes in the Premier League in that time – behind only captain Harry Maguire (720), Marcus Rashford (646), Fernandes (641) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (630).

Prior to that West Ham game, Pogba started just four times and made seven Premier League appearances.

He did not have a goal or an assist in that period and registered just two key passes. United won three, drew one and lost three of those first seven Premier League outings.

Starting with the West Ham match, the seven Pogba has played have produced five wins, two draws and no defeats.

Paul Pogba says Manchester United are capable of winning the Premier League but expects a long title race with many teams still in the running.

United travel to Anfield on Sunday to face champions Liverpool.

Victory would move Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side six points clear of Liverpool after an 11-game unbeaten top-flight run, containing nine wins, catapulted them to the top.

The improved form of Pogba has been crucial to that and he is aware Liverpool represent a huge test, but he told his United team-mates anything was possible this season if they remain focused.

"I think we can win it if we keep our focus but there's a lot of teams that can win it - we are not there yet, we are still very far [away]," he said to Sky Sports about the Premier League title race.

"We have improved a lot, we keep improving but we still have a very young team.

"Obviously we cannot say now we are at the same level as [Liverpool] because they won the Premier League and keep winning so the day we win - that is when we say we are at the same level.

"If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. We want to beat the Premier League winners.

"We know how good they have been playing over the last few years - we know their quality and how they play.

"It's always been a tough game. We know how difficult it will be and we just have to focus and try to stay at the top."

While United have impressed in the league, they were beaten by rivals Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-final last week.

It was the fourth time they have lost in the last four of a competition under Solskjaer.

Asked how United could take the next step, Pogba said: "By always wanting more.

"Always focus on the next game, the most important one. Always the next game, the next game. If you win 3-0, or lose 1-0, it's the next game.

"Keep the focus, keep the mentality, keep strong in the head and keep calm.

"Obviously with confidence that you are going to do it. That's how I see it. You are not a champion until you get the trophy, so you have to keep carrying on."

Manchester United star Paul Pogba expects Premier League players to find innovative ways of celebrating goals after being told to avoid hugs and high fives.

As a means of cutting contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, league chiefs have written to clubs to advise them that players should steer away from the usual exuberant celebrations.

The Premier League was also set to hold a series of meetings with managers and players before the weekend, with the same message expected to be emphasised.

Players have been celebrating goals largely as normal during this week's midweek programme, but football is determined to show it can operate responsibly as it aims to continue amid the global health crisis.

Frenchman Pogba scored the only goal as United won at Burnley on Tuesday to rise to the top of the Premier League table, and the strike was followed by a team huddle with plenty of close contact.

But now the Premier League is clamping down and Pogba can understand why it would do that amid rising numbers of positive cases.

Ahead of Manchester United's trip to face Liverpool on Sunday, he told Sky Sports News: "You find another way to celebrate, to be happy, but the most important is not this - the most important is the result.

"Obviously there's rules and you have to respect it and you have to do it for the safety of everyone. We've been doing very well, I think, in Manchester."

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."

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."

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