Paul Pogba was the standout performer as Manchester United eked out a 1-0 win over Burnley to climb to the top of the Premier League table on Tuesday.
The big talking point of the first half was the VAR and referee Kevin Friend’s decision-making. The debate over why Luke Shaw was booked and therefore, Robbie Brady subsequently was not versus why he was not sent off would rage on for quite some time. Another major difference maker was the inexplicable decision to rule out Harry Maguire’s headed goal for a foul on Erik Pieters.
The closest Manchester United came in the first half was a little over half-time when Nick Pope was quick to react to Anthony Martial’s curling effort. The Red Devils piled on the pressure post the interval, but had to wait till the 71st minute to finally break the deadlock.
Paul Pogba produced a superb volley to finish off Marcus Rashford’s pinpoint cross and hand the visitors the lead. Burnley created some nervy moments for Manchester United late on, but the Red Devils held on for the narrow win to climb to the top of the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 6/10
This was perhaps the easiest outing of the season for de Gea, despite Burnley’s late onslaught. Indeed, the Manchester United no. 1 did not have a single save to make on the night, with the hosts keeping none of their shots on target. Completed just 7 of the 16 passes he attempted, though.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Wan-Bissaka. While he was a busy customer at the back, with 5 tackles and 4 clearances. However, he was once again nervy with crosses coming in towards him, and one poor header nearly gave Burnley a late chance. Did not really pose a great deal of threat going forward, as is the case with him more often than not.
Eric Bailly: 8/10
Eric Bailly’s game by numbers vs. Burnley:
82% pass accuracy
8 ball recoveries
1 clean sheet
Proving his fitness and quality. 👌 pic.twitter.com/HKuCY7PqYP
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 12, 2021
Having recovered sufficiently from a minor injury, Bailly started at the heart of the Manchester United defence, where he was an absolute rock. A couple of his blocks were quite critical and Bailly was quick to read the danger and clear it away from de Gea. Reasonably precise with the ball at his feet as well.
Harry Maguire: 8/10
Much like Bailly, Maguire was solid at the back for the visitors, barely putting a foot wrong on the night. While Burnley did not pose a great deal of threat for the most part, it was the presence of the Manchester United captain that ensured that the Red Devils had the composure to see out the late charge and grab the narrow win. Would be bitterly disappointed at having his goal disallowed.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
His tackle on Johann Berg Gudmundsson has drawn polarising views, after being shown a yellow card. Shaw, though, was in good touch otherwise, even delivering the pinpoint cross for Maguire’s goal, which was later ruled out. Continued to be a constant outlet down the left flank and defended with resolve.
Paul Pogba: 9/10
Paul Pogba's performance tonight:
70 passes completed (90%)
12/14 duels won
— 7/8 ground
— 5/6 aerial
7/9 long passes completed
4 fouls won
2/2 tackles won
1 match-winning goal
The Man of the Match. pic.twitter.com/t5wEflInEe
— UtdArena (@utdarena) January 12, 2021
The man of the moment for Manchester United. How well has Pogba turned things around over the past month or so, shutting down all the distracting talks of a move away from the club. On Tuesday, the Frenchman was absolutely in his elements, putting a shift off the ball to make 8 recoveries and win 12 duels. Most importantly, Pogba produced the brilliant finish for the winner. So crucial ahead of the Liverpool game.
Nemanja Matic: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup, Matic, alongside Pogba was pivotal in asserting Manchester United’s dominance in midfield. The Serb made a game-high 12 recoveries and won 3 duels while playing a key pass and boasting a superb pass completion rate of 93 percent. His legs started going away late on but for the most part, there was very little getting past Matic.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Another player who was hit and miss against Burnley. For several parts of the game, Rashford was not quite on the same wavelength as some of his teammates, with his end product sorely missing. However, the English international made a great deal of difference in the end for Manchester United as it was his well-timed cross that was converted by Pogba. Needs to step up at Liverpool.
Marcus Rashford has been directly involved in 50 goals since the start of last season [36G & 14A].
A smart pass to pick out Pogba. 👏 pic.twitter.com/4FmpJ0IFAG
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 12, 2021
Bruno Fernandes: 6/10
A rare off game for Bruno Fernandes, who was a frustrated figure on Tuesday. The Portuguese international was everywhere on the pitch and tried to make things happen. However, he just could not manage to hit his best levels, creating just one chance while aiming hopeful shots at goal. Will hope to be back to his best against Liverpool.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
As was the case with much of the Manchester United attack, Martial, too, was off his levels. The Frenchman came the closest to scoring in the game before Pogba eventually broke the deadlock, with Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope denying him with a top class save. However, he ought to have done much better to convert a couple of other half chances that came his way.
Edinson Cavani: 7/10
Back into the side after having served out his three-match ban, Cavani was purposeful in his display but also wasteful with a couple of chances. However, the veteran Uruguayan striker’s movement gave the Burnley defence a lot to worry about and he created a fine opening for Martial late on. Will be a key player this weekend for Manchester United.
Mason Greenwood: N/A
On for Rashford in the 80th minute, Greenwood did not have enough time to make an impact.
Scott McTominay: N/A
A late introduction, McTominay helped see the game out.
Axel Tuanzebe: N/A
A pair of fresh legs to see out the game.