Nemanja Matic declared Manchester United as a genuine force in this campaign’s title race after their 1-0 win over Burnley and warned Liverpool that they were ‘ready’ for the challenge that awaits them this weekend.
United’s breakthrough came through Paul Pogba who beat Nick Pope with a deflected volley at Turf Moor and Solskjaer’s side held on to their advantage to go three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table.
It’s the first time United have clinched top spot in January since Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit back in 2013 and Gary Neville refused to rule out the possibility of the club lifting the Premier League trophy in his post-match analysis.
And Matic agreed that the club’s good run of form and newfound ‘maturity’ means they should be taken seriously as a title contender, along with Liverpool and Manchester City.
‘I think that these sort of wins show that we are ready to compete for the title,’ the Serbian told Premier League Productions. ‘Sometimes we have looked like a team who wants to score as soon as possible, then we get panicked.
‘But I think today we showed more maturity, we showed we are more clever. And on this pitch, at this stadium against Burnley is always hard to win the games, not to concede a goal from long balls and set-pieces.
‘We prepared the game well and I think we deserved these three points.’
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On Pogba’s second-half goal, Matic said: ‘We have a lot of quality in our team and in these kind of games you have to use that.
‘You have to be patient, not to panic, because when you have that much quality over 90 minutes, one situation will decide and that was exactly what we did today.
‘I’m happy for the team, for the team performance and the team spirit. ‘Let’s see on Sunday against Liverpool. It’s the biggest derby in England and we go there to compete with them, to see where we are, one of the best teams in the league so I think that we are ready.’
‘We’ve played 17 games and we’re top of the table so that shows something,’ Matic added. ‘We didn’t play five or six games and are top where you can say it’s lucky.
‘After 17 games, it’s definitely not lucky and definitely there is quality. ‘But we can’t relax, we have to concentrate until the end to go game by game. The next one is always the most important.’