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United Briefing: Matic is ready for Anfield

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Joe Ganley

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The midfielder was a vital font of experience for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the win over the Clarets, and the 32-year-old was delighted with what he saw from the team as a whole during the 1-0 win.

Now, as all eyes turn to Sunday’s top-of-the-table summit with Liverpool, Matic says that the team are showing real signs that they can challenge for English football’s top prize.

“I think this kind of win shows that we are ready to compete for the title,”he said.“I’m happy for the team performance and spirit and let’s see Sunday against Liverpool. It’s the biggest derby in England and we go there to compete with them and see where we are against one of the best teams in the league. I think we are ready.”

The Reds overcame a frustrating first half in east Lancashire, which saw numerous VAR interventions and a seemingly legal Harry Maguire ‘goal’ ruled out by referee Kevin Friend. 

Those setbacks, coupled with Burnley’s aggressive, combative style, had several players irritated come half-time, but Matic was impressed with the maturity that was on display in the second period – which saw Man of the Match Paul Pogba score the game’s only goal.

“Sometimes [in the past] we looked like a team who wants to score as soon as possible, then we get panicked [if we don't score]. I think we showed today more maturity. “In our team we have lots of quality, and in these types of games you have to use that. You have to be patient and not to panic because when you have that much quality, during 90 minutes one moment will decide [the outcome].“We showed that we are more clever and on this pitch, in this stadium against Burnley, it is always hard to win these games,”he continued.“Not to concede a goal from the long balls and set-pieces – we prepared the game well and I think that we deserved these three points.“[We] say before the game when we had [the] meeting that it was going to be exactly what happened tonight. During the game you have to adapt to their way of the game and to cope with that situation. I think that we did great.“On the other side, we had some good spells with our football where we played and created some chances. If you see all the game, I think everyone has to be happy and now to forget is quick, and focus on the next one.”

While United have topped the table since Sir Alex Ferguson was manager, this is the first time they have been leaders after New Year's Day since the Scot retired in 2013 – and Matic says their form after 17 games shouldn’t be underestimated.

“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.”

Modestly – despite his own controlled and composed display – our no.31 saved a special word of praise for his midfield partner, Paul Pogba, who provided the game’s outstanding moment with a technically assured volley.

“Yeah, Paul in the last couple of games, he [has] showed a maturity,”eulogised Matic.“He showed exactly the way he needs to play. If he continues to play in this way… He is one of the best midfielders in the world. On the pitch he will show exactly what is his potential and that he can be the leader. Yeah, he needs to use what he has in legs [and] in his head. “I don’t want to say too much more about him, I don’t want him to feel too much big [headed]!”joked Nemanja.“He is fantastic, as I said, he needs to go game by game. The next one is the most important.”

WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?

Our search for a 10th FA Youth Cup was supposed to begin this evening, with Neil Ryan’s lads set to take on Salford City. But that was before the FA announced that it was suspending the competition, in line with the government’s latest instructions on the COVID-19 lockdown.

Instead, we’ll be reflecting on last night’s win at Turf Moor, and looking forward to this weekend’s match with Liverpool.

You can read Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s comments on the game here, and get the thoughts of match-winner Paul Pogba here.

Read through ManUtd.com and our Official App for a whole host of content relating to the win, and enjoy United’s rosy Premier League table picture.

by

Joe Ganley

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Highlights & reaction: Burnley 0 United 1

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