Edinson Cavani and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

This stat shows United's progress under Ole

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says nobody will remember who was top of the league on 12 January and the boss is right in his assessment, yet it is impossible to deny the progress being made at Old Trafford.

The hard-working Reds earned a gritty and professional 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night thanks to Paul Pogba’s goal, to move three points clear of champions Liverpool. 

It was a performance stuffed with team spirit and there is a growing belief that this United side could win the title this season, although there is clearly a long way to go in the race just yet. 

Fans are allowed to revel in the excitement of top spot, naturally, yet nobody at the club is getting carried away and Solskjaer is keen to nurture that mentality – knowing that consistency is key when challenging for the championship.

90 in 20: Burnley 0 United 1Video

Ole is studying the bigger picture and is quietly pleased by the squad’s progress over the last 12 months, which is highlighted by an encouraging statistic that was trending overnight. 

After 17 Premier League matches in 2019/20, United were sixth in the table with 25 points on the board and were disappointingly 24 points behind leaders Liverpool. 

This season, after the same number of games, Solskjaer’s Reds have amassed 36 points, occupy first place and crucially hold a three-point lead over our historic rivals from Merseyside.
That three-point gap could be extended to six on Sunday when United travel to Anfield for one of the most anticipated league fixtures in years, which will undoubtedly be watched by millions of supporters around the world.

“It's a brilliant position to be in,”
said Ole on Tuesday evening.
“Of course, we know we’re going to the champions, they’ve had an unbelievable three-and-a-half seasons so we know that’s going to be a difficult game for us, but we’re ready for it. 

“I think we couldn’t have asked for a better time to play them, because we’re in good shape, in good form, we're hungry – that’s the 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.”

Ole’s post-match interviewVideo

Nemanja Matic was outstanding against Burnley and the experienced Serbian was also keen to highlight the team’s progress during his post-match interview.

“We played 17 games [and] we are top of the table. That shows something,” he stressed. “We didn’t play five or six games and you can say maybe it’s lucky. But after 17 games, definitely it is not lucky, definitely there is quality. 

“But we cannot relax, we need to be concentrated until the end – to go game by game. In football, the next one is always important; the next one is the biggest final, and we will see.”

Matic: Our position isn't luckVideo

Match-winner Pogba echoed a similar sentiment to Solskjaer and Matic, calling for focus as he looked towards Anfield and the rest of the season. 

“It is [big] and you know even for us and the fans it is great, but there is a long way to go. So, now we are there and we need to stay there. Now is the difficult part as well. Today was a difficult game and it’s going to be harder and harder.

“Today proved that we are really focused. That’s how we improve, that’s how we get better. Our heads are focused on the league and we need to keep it up and keep going.”

United's 18th game of the Premier League season, away to Liverpool, kicks off at 16:30 GMT on Sunday.

Essential reaction from Turf Moor: