Manchester United are currently joint-top of the Premier League table with bitter rivals Liverpool. The Red Devils have managed to reach this position despite making their worst start to a season since 1992.
On Friday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led his side to yet another important victory as they beat an in-form Aston Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford. While the scoreline was impressive, the Red Devils’ performance showed why they should be taken seriously as title contenders.
Manchester United opened the scoring from a quick counter-attacking move, which involved Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. The latter threaded a cheeky flick to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who in turn, crossed the ball for Antony Martial to head home.
Although Aston Villa equalised through Bertrand Traore in the second half, the Reds went ahead almost immediately when Pogba won a penalty two minutes later. Bruno Fernandes stepped up and converted the spot kick to give Solskjaer’s side all three points.
A proper Liverpool-Manchester United title rivalry on the horizon
It wasn’t an entirely dominant performance from the Old Trafford outfit, but they showed enough grit, desire and fight to win the game. The celebrations at full-time showed what this win meant to all the players and coaches.
At the beginning of the season, very few expected Manchester United to qualify for the top-four, let alone challenge for the Premier League title. However, they’ve managed to play themselves into the title race with their old rivals Liverpool.
The two clubs are amongst the biggest in England but it’s been a long time since we saw a proper title rivalry between them.
In the Premier League era, we’ve seen title rivalries between Manchester United and Leeds United, Manchester United and Newcastle United, Manchester United and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, and Manchester United and Manchester City.
What we haven’t seen, though, is a proper title challenge involving the two most successful clubs in England. That looks like it is about to change this season. Liverpool remain firm favourites to win the league, but Manchester United have shown that they are ready to take the race to the wire.
Improved Manchester United are the team to watch
Manchester United ended 2020 as one of the best teams in England, having overturned their form after the COVID-19-enforced break. The Red Devils have started 2021 well, too, and it’ll take a massive slump for them to slip off in the title race.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about how the team is improving after the win against Aston Villa.
“We are improving and getting closer to the top and we are gelling more and more as a team,” Solskjaer told Manutd.com after the win against Aston Villa.
“The culture in the group is getting better. You listen to the subs tonight - I know we miss our fans - but they are our fans. They are supporting their team-mates," added Solskjaer.
Manchester United are definitely improving with each passing game and they have now won five of their last six matches in all competitions. They have also not lost a league game since early November when they suffered a defeat to Arsenal.
United were only second to Liverpool in terms of total points won in the Premier League in 2020 and look set to keep their good form going.Published 02 Jan 2021, 16:55 IST