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Being top in January is no reward: Solskjaer

United boss wants his side to keep standards high for rest of the season


In contention: Edinson Cavani is available after his three-game ban

In contention: Edinson Cavani is available after his three-game ban


In contention: Edinson Cavani is available after his three-game ban

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says there is no chance his players can think they have "cracked it" if Manchester United go top of the Premier League after tonight's game with Burnley.

After a truncated pre-season and shaky start to the campaign, the Red Devils head to Turf Moor tonight level on 33 points with reigning champions and bitter rivals Liverpool.

A positive result in that game in hand will see them move top ahead of Sunday's mouth-watering trip to Anfield, but Solskjaer knows a thing or two about winning titles and will not allow the group to get ahead of themselves.

"We have to be aggressive," said the Norwegian, who was part of six Premier League-winning sides during his time as a player at Old Trafford.

"We have to go into every game humble, work hard, don't even think for one second that you've cracked it if you are near the top because that's not the type of players we have.

"We have players who should play on the front foot, aggressive, work hard and be hard to play against no matter what.

"But of course the group mentality is improving all the time so now it's a different challenge, it's Burnley away and we're in this position.

"It doesn't matter where we end up in the league as long as we focus on this game and this game only."

The trip to Burnley will finally see United play the game in hand that has been hanging over them all season after their opener was pushed back to give them time to recover from August's Europa League finals.

"With the results that we got in the beginning as well, it made it more difficult for the players maybe," Solskjaer said.

"It made it easier for people to criticise us, look at the table, maybe worry a little bit.

"So of course a game in hand is only good if you win it. You need to win that one to put those points on the board.

"But with a difficult start against Palace and Tottenham, of course I think it made it harder mentally for the players maybe to look at the table because even if you don't look at the table people keep talking at you, keep talking away about your positioning."

United not only head to Burnley sitting pretty in the standings but boasting an enviable number of options. Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof could be available after injury, while Edinson Cavani returns from a three-match ban.

"I've got a decent amount of players to pick from so let's see how Paul and Eric are," said Solskjaer.

"Edinson has trained well when he's been banned. He's had a couple of days off, of course, as well - you can't train too much.

"But he's ready to go, he gives us a different option. He's a different type of striker or forward than Mason (Greenwood), Anthony (Martial) and Marcus (Rashford), so I'm glad to have him back. That's why we brought him in.

"He's contributed really well so far and I'm sure he'll be really important for us now until the end of the season. We feel the season starts tomorrow night."

United will also be juggling Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League exertions over the coming months but Solskjaer is not expecting any more new faces, having wrapped up a deal for Atalanta teenager Amad Diallo.

"I think that the signings we made in the summer strengthened the squad really well," the he added.

"January's always difficult but if something comes up that you think about in the long-term, it's a long-term target anyway, that's another scenario."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche is, meanwhile, hopeful all his players who have been isolating because of coronavirus will be back for tonight's game.

The Clarets were without a quartet of players - believed to be Ashley Westwood, Josh Brownhill, Jimmy Dunne and Bailey Peacock-Farrell - for Saturday's FA Cup victory over MK Dons because they had either tested positive or were having to isolate as a close contact.

Dyche now faces a dilemma over whether to throw them straight back in for the Turf Moor clash with United.

He said: "They've been double tested again and the timescale fits in. We've followed all the protocols so hopefully people will be available.

"Our lads are pretty fit historically so we're pretty sure once we check them out, they'll recover well and be ready and raring."

Burnley v Man Utd

Turf Moor, Tonight, 8.15pm

Belfast Telegraph