Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United go to Anfield on Sunday at the perfect time after leapfrogging Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table on Tuesday night. A 1-0 win over Burnley saw the Red Devils move three points clear at the summit and showcase their title credentials after grinding out a tough victory.
Paul Pogba’s deflected second-half volley was enough for the Red Devils to end the day top of the Premier League standings for the first time since the final day of the 2012-13 season.
United have not won the league since that season and have struggled to even maintain a sustained title challenge, their best finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement coming in 2017-18 when Jose Mourinho’s men finished 19 points behind Manchester City.
It looked earlier this season that it would be another year of concentrating on Champions League qualification but they have rallied in recent months since a 6-1 defeat to Tottenham and another Old Trafford loss to Arsenal.
United now head to reigning champions Liverpool, who are unbeaten at home in the league since April 2017, this weekend knowing victory would move them six points clear of the Reds, who were previously slated as favourites for the crown but are now under real pressure from both United and Manchester City.
And Solskjaer has warned Jurgen Klopp’s side – who are winless in their last three top-flight outings and lost to Southampton last time out – that United travel to Merseyside “hungry” and full of confidence as they look to make a real statement to the rest of the division.
“Brilliant position to be in,” the Norwegian manager told Sky Sports after the hard-fought victory at Turf Moor. “We know we’re going to the champions, they’ve had an unbelievable three-and-a-half seasons.
“We know it’s going to be a difficult game for us but we’re ready for it. We couldn’t have asked for a better time to play them.
“We’re in good shape, good form and we’re hungry. That’s a big thing. These boys are hungry, they want to get better and that’s a test again. A test of character and a test of quality.”
On the win over Burnley, Solskjaer added: “When you get three points in the Premier League it makes you smile. It was a hard-fought three points. It always is up here.
“I thought the second half we played really well then you expect the onslaught the last five minutes but we were looking good and we held out.
“They are so well-organised and there’s not many spaces, but we did look at some of the spaces.
“Great cross and very well-executed finish, then we could’ve had one or two more to calm the nerves towards the end, but we just like to do it the hard way.”
United were denied a first-half goal when captain Harry Maguire was adjudged to have fouled Erik Pieters at the back post as he headed across Nick Pope into the far corner, but Solskjaer strongly disagreed with the decision to rule out his effort.
He said: “Definitely not a foul by Harry in his goal. If you can’t jump and head it in like that, I don’t believe that’s anywhere near a foul.
“We had to keep our heads calm and just stay focused in ourselves then the goal would come, and it did come. It was a great performance from everyone, good focus, and we have to keep doing this.
“I’m always happy when I win. Obviously today we won so I’m very happy. I’m happy we played well and happy we are at the top.
“But like I said, it’s still a long way to go, there are big games coming up, so we have to focus on that, too.”
While Pogba’s midfield partner Nemanja Matic said: “It was exactly what we expected and we did a great job and deserved the points. We are top of the table and we are happy.
“We are exactly where we belong. Burnley are a good side and to win here is not easy. We know that we go game by game. This one was a final and now we focus on the next one in the same way against Liverpool.”
United take on Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday at 4.30pm and will also take on their bitter rivals in the FA Cup fourth round the following weekend at Old Trafford.