Paul Pogba urged new league-leaders Manchester United to “keep calm” for the “big moment” when his side face champions Liverpool on Sunday.
United are top of the Premier League table after the turn of the year for the first time since they last won the title in 2012-13 and could move six points clear with victory at Anfield.
“It will be a beautiful game for everyone,” Pogba told BBC Sport.
“It’s a big game coming up so let’s get ready for it.”
Pogba’s deflected volley gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side three points at Burnley to put them back on the summit and set up a huge game at the weekend.
“We knew if we won tonight we would be top of the league when we play Liverpool,” Pogba said.
“We have to keep calm, now it is the big moment. We will see what is going to happen.”
A year unbeaten on the road
Manchester United are now unbeaten in 15 Premier League away fixtures, winning 12 of them, with their last defeat on the road coming at Anfield a year ago.
Goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah on that occasion left United 30 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side – it’s been quite the turnaround in a year.
In fact it’s been quite a turnaround in a few months.
United were down in 15th place at the start of November when Arsenal won at Old Trafford. Since then, nine wins and two draws have pushed the former perennial winners back to the top.
‘We have to believe – and we do’
Solskjaer has seen a few ups and downs in his 25 months in charge, with #OLEOUT being seen as much as #OLEIN – but he now has his side in formidable form.
He continually batted away questions of a title challenge at Turf Moor but acknowledged that his team head to Anfield – where they last won five years ago – in fine spirits.
“We feel very confident going into games,” he told BBC Sport.
“Away from home we have really done well. We have to believe in ourselves and we do. We’ve done a great job, it’s good times.
“It’s a test on Sunday against the champions who have been fantastic, that’s a great test for us.”
‘Six weeks ago they were nowhere near’
Solskjaer may have been reticent to discuss it but former United captain Gary Neville says they are in the title race and it’s a challenge that nobody saw coming.
“To go top of the league before Sunday, it feels like a big moment,” he told Sky Sports.
“Six to eight weeks ago you didn’t think they would be anywhere near. Now something is building, a spirit is growing, you can see the togetherness.
“Eight weeks ago, Liverpool were everyone’s certainties. No-one is getting carried away, it could easily turn the other way but the fact they are in a title race… wow. You have to give credit to the players.
“It is a strange season. Why shouldn’t Manchester United fans believe, why shouldn’t this team believe? They have some fantastic players. I don’t think it will be a comfortable few days for Liverpool. They didn’t expect this.”
‘Don’t disregard a 21st title’
Analysis by BBC Sport’s Simon Stone
Ten years ago, if someone had said Manchester United supporters would be celebrating being top of the Premier League, they wouldn’t have been believed.
Three months ago, if someone had said they would be top now, they would have received a shake of the head.
Yet, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad deserve credit. After a woeful home defeat by Arsenal, they have collected 29 points from a possible 33 and deserve their place at the summit.
Solskjaer will not get carried away. Sunday’s opponents Liverpool and a Manchester City side that has found its winning groove have shown over the past few seasons they are rivals of the highest quality.
But for a club that has fallen so far from its peak – a second top-four finish in a row would be a post-Ferguson first – being back at the head of affairs represents a welcome change.
And with a squad arguably deeper than anyone else’s, if maybe not the absolute highest quality, in a season as squeezed as this one, don’t completely disregard title 21 in 2021.