Ole Gunnar Solskjær said his Manchester United players are “ready, excited and hungry” before Sunday’s Premier League summit meeting at Liverpool.
Following Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Burnley, United travel to Anfield top of the table, three points ahead of Jürgen Klopp’s side. “We’re getting better and better,” said Solskjær. “We’re in a good position. But no one will remember the league table on the 12th of January; Sunday is a test of character and quality. We’re looking forward to it; it will be a great test of where we’re at against the deserved champions and the best team by a mile in this country for quite a long time. We’re ready, excited and hungry.”
Paul Pogba’s deflected volley clinched victory on a night punctuated by VAR controversy but which ended with United top at this stage of a season for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in charge in United’s last title-winning season of 2012-13.
“We’re seeing the best of Paul at the moment,” said Solskjær, who could be without Anthony Martial at Anfield after the forward limped off late on. “Paul’s had injuries and Covid [earlier in the season] so it was natural for him to need time to get back to full fitness. I’ve always said Paul is a big player for us. He’s a good character in the dressing room.”
Pogba was suitably delighted. “We knew if we won we’d be top when we played Liverpool on Sunday,” said the match-winner. “We have to keep calm. Now is the big moment. Sunday will be a beautiful game for everybody.”
While Burnley’s manager, Sean Dyche, described United as “a top side”, Solskjær acknowledged that his team’s ninth victory in 11 games was not straightforward. “We should have scored more, but we always do it the hard way,” said United’s manager who saw Harry Maguire have a goal disallowed contentiously. “Patience and calmness was the key.”
Solskjær admitted it is extremely difficult to prevent footballers celebrating goals amid the pandemic. “It’s an emotional game,” he said. “You have to understand footballers and you also have to understand the concern. It’s difficult. Football brings the best and the worst out in you. We all do our best to stay within the guidelines. We all want football to carry on – and safely.”