Player of the Month shortlist explained
After a thrilling month under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it's time to cast your vote for Manchester United's January Player of the Month award.
VICTOR LINDELOF - 5 appearances, 1 goal
The Swede capped another assured month of performances with his first United goal in the dramatic 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday evening. That moment will have sent the blood pumping round Lindelof's body like few others in his football career, but it's at the other end of the field where his growing influence is most telling. Victor has developed a stable partnership with Phil Jones at the heart of the defence, and has been delighting fans with his calm vision on the ball - which has helped the team get the ball forward quickly and accurately - and the underrated strength of his tackling.
Against Newcastle, he could be seen shrugging off aggressive opponents and winning all of his tackles, while at Tottenham, he showed his strength by steaming into Harry Winks with a perfectly timed challenge that left the young midfielder on the deck. It's been a superb sophomore season thus far for the Scandivanian international, who is fast becoming one of United's key players.
PAUL POGBA - 5 appearances, 2 goals
December's winner of the award has submitted another stellar month as the creative fulcrum of Solskjaer's side. His two goals might only have been spot-kicks, but each was crucial - the first putting United ahead in the tight match against Brighton and the second laying the foundation for the late onslaught that would eke out a point against Burnley. But, if we're really being honest, Paul could have done just one thing this month and it would have surely been enough to earn him a nomination.
Yes, we're talking about that pass against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. The only goal of the superb win at Spurs was finished sublimely by Marcus Rashford, but Pogba's glorious, arcing, widescreen pass had the purists purring for days. But the Frenchman is also showing other sides to his football. Against Burnley, he could be seen encouraging and instructing his team-mates to raise the tempo, to press and to get the ball forward more quickly. As the manager said earlier, this month: "He's captain material." While January didn't feature the midfielder scoring the goals from open play he did last month, we're seeing a greater depth and maturity to his contribution.
MARCUS RASHFORD - 4 (2) appearances, 3 goals
This month's top scorer has been in blistering form, and his stunning solo effort against Brighton was arguably January's best individual moment. His decisive one-on-one finish at Newcastle made three vital points secure and, a week later, he applied the finish Paul Pogba's sensational assist deserved against Tottenham at Wembley. But Marcus's tireless running, intelligent movement and magical skills have all been essential to the quick, fluid football we've seen under Solskjaer thus far.
Factor in his ever-improving, Ronaldo-like free-kicks – which played a crucial role in the month's very first goal, at Newcastle - and it's evident that United have a player that's improving every week. Against Burnley, he showed his willingness to adapt for the team, in his less favoured position of left wing, but Rashford will be delighted with a month that's seen him flourishing as the spearhead of the Reds' attack.