Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists a Manchester United win at Liverpool on Sunday would be a "shock" despite his team going into the match ahead of the Reds at the Premier League summit.

United and Liverpool have not faced each other as the Premier League's top two since April 1997. While Tottenham and Leicester City could potentially move above Jurgen Klopp's men before they clash at Anfield, it still highlights how rare it has been for both clubs to be fighting near the summit at the same time.

Liverpool were the last team to inflict an away defeat on United in the Premier League, as they emerged 2-0 victors in January last year - the Red Devils have since gone 15 unbeaten on the road, drawing just twice.

At that point, Liverpool moved 30 points clear of United in the league, but this time around require a victory to just go level with them.

But for all the positivity and momentum sweeping through United, Solskjaer is remaining reserved and realistic, putting the pressure back on Liverpool as he is adamant an away win would be an upset given the fact the Reds have not lost in their past 67 home league games, a run that stretches back to April 2017.

"The next one is always the biggest, most important," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if this was the biggest game of his managerial career.

"Being of course where we are in the league, that gives us more confidence, it's a sign, indication of where we're at.

"But it's a game versus the champions, they've an amazing record at Anfield, not lost there in the league for many years, so it's a great test for us. Can we go there and cause an upset?"

Solskjaer was pressed on that assertion again soon after, with the Norwegian asked if it could really be considered a shock if a United side top of the league beat Liverpool.

"If you look at the last few seasons, it would be an upset, it would be a shock," he insisted.

"I think our position at the moment is a product of all the hard work we have done in the training ground, what the players are putting down every single day.

"We probably deserve to be where we are at the moment, but I don't think many would have thought of another word [other than upset] for us beating Liverpool at Anfield if you go six weeks back. But we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can cause an upset."

Solskjaer also addressed the gulf in points between the sides after their previous meeting, suggesting it was an unfair reflection of the difference between the two.

However, he believes his side is far better equipped 12 months on.

"Of course, we're a much better side now than a year ago but then we lost that game to a [Virgil] van Dijk header from a corner and counter-attack at the last kick of the game from our corner," he said.

"So, I don't think we were a million miles away from them then either, I think that's a misperception that people said that. We did have some moments in that game ourselves.

"Of course, the league position shows we are competitive, we are up there with six, seven or eight other teams, it's a tighter season this year. The last few years there have been two teams running away with it by the end of October, now at least we are in it, so we're halfway."

John Barnes has cast doubt on whether Manchester United can sustain the form that has taken them to the Premier League summit ahead of Sunday's huge clash with Liverpool.

The Anfield battle between the long-time rivals gives United an opportunity to pull six points clear of Jurgen Klopp's men, which is a scenario few envisaged even a matter of weeks ago.

Nine wins and two draws in 11 games means United have soared from a lowly standing to the top of the table, yet Liverpool legend Barnes believes one setback could trigger a slide.

He compared Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team to Mikel Arteta's inconsistent Arsenal, and expressed confidence it will be Manchester City and Liverpool who finish the season as the top two in England.

"I think it's too early to say for Manchester United," Barnes told Stats Perform News.

"Because of course, remember when Ole first came after 13 games, they felt that everything was okay. Then they went through a period. And of course, they're very similar now, whereby they're being inconsistent, as much as inconsistency can be being top of the league, with going out of the Champions League.

"But I think that they're showing a resilience that even if they don't play well, they can get results, which is the sign of championship contenders.

"But very much like if you look at Arsenal, and winning one or two games and all of a sudden everything's rosy for Mikel Arteta, lose one or two games and everything will be all doom and gloom.

"I think Manchester United are similar. I still see Man City as our biggest challengers for the title, I still think us and Man City will be first and second.

"Man United are in a good moment now. But will that harmony continue, knowing that one or two bad performances or defeats, well then the old questions about Ole again, the old questions about [Paul] Pogba?

"You need to get rid of all of those of uncertainties if you really want to push for the league, but at the moment, they're doing really well."

Barnes added: "We know what we're going to get from Liverpool. But the intangible is we don't know what we're going to get from Man United."

Sunday's game will be Klopp's 200th Premier League match as Liverpool manager, and Barnes says he has "improved them beyond measure", even if the recent dip in form has cast some doubt over their prospects of back-to-back titles.

Two points from a possible nine since Christmas has been a worrying twist in Liverpool's campaign.

Barnes said: "We're going through a phase now but we'll come out of it. We were top of the league until Man United went above us. So if this is what's being called having a blip, whereby we can go back top of the league if we beat Manchester United, long may this continue.

"I think we've just become so spoiled and expecting Liverpool to be scoring every weekend, beating everybody 5-0, that when they don't, everyone sees that as a bit of an issue."

The goals have dried up in the league since a 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace on December 19, with the front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino looking to sharpen up their form.

"I have no fears that those three players will start to score goals," Barnes said. "And we'll be where we should be in the coming weeks and months."

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has won the Premier League Player of the Month award for the fourth time in his first year with the club.

Fernandes was confirmed as the winner of December's award on Friday, following up his success in November.

His fourth overall Player of the Month award means he is already level with United greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes, while just one behind Wayne Rooney's career tally.

Fernandes has closed to within three of the overall record held by Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, who won seven.

The Portugal international is the first player to win the award four times in a calendar year.

He scored twice and added an assist in the 6-2 win against Leeds United while he also netted and set up a goal in the 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Boxing Day.

Fernandes additionally assisted key goals for Paul Pogba (against West Ham) and Marcus Rashford (against Wolves) over the course of the month.

The 26-year-old said: "Three goals and four assists was a complete month.

"Scoring and assisting your team-mates is perfect. I want to achieve other trophies and awards but I'm really happy to make history.

"It is a long way before we can start talking about being [Premier League] champions. We have to keep working. 

"We play against one of the best teams in England [Liverpool on Sunday] and we know what it means to the fans. But the main point is the same: three points."

Fernandes' team-mate Rashford was also on the shortlist along with Anwar El Ghazi, Emiliano Martinez, Ben Mee, Mohamed Salah, Tomas Soucek and John Stones.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was named Manager of the Month.

His side are just 10 points behind leaders United with two games in hand having secured wins over Wolves, West Brom and Crystal Palace in December, conceding just once in five games.

Carlo Ancelotti, Sean Dyche and United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were the other nominees.

Mikel Arteta is excited by the appointment of Richard Garlick as Arsenal's director of football operations.

Garlick is currently the Premier League's director of football and will join the Gunners later this year.

A sports law specialist, Garlick moved to his post with the league after spending eight years with West Brom and will oversee football operations alongside technical director Edu, academy manager Per Mertesacker and Arteta.

The move completes a reshuffle behind the scenes at Emirates Stadium following the departures of Huss Fahmy and Raul Sanllehi last October and August respectively.

"We needed someone with a lot of experience, who knows the job really well and has a lot of connections in English and international football," Arteta said.

"And as well someone who can bring some ideas and qualities to the business the way we want.

"I'm really excited, I met him. He's certainly the candidate we wanted. Now we have to respect the processes of the Premier League and we will see when we can get him.

"We had to replace Huss, he had a very important role with the first team and the academy. We've been looking for months and we all decided the best person for us was Richard."

On the field, Arteta will be without defenders Kieran Tierney and Pablo Mari due to calf injuries for Monday's game against Premier League strugglers Newcastle United, although Thomas Partey made a welcome return as a substitute during Thursday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

"He's made the right steps. He hasn't played much football during the past four months," Arteta said of the former Atletico Madrid midfielder, who has been laid low by a groin injury.

"He had an injury exactly in the same place as he had before when he got injured against Spurs.

"Now we have the reassurance that he can compete. He did it for 25, 30 minutes. He did it well, he didn't feel anything.

"So now we are going to be looking for the next step."

Paul Pogba feels the Premier League is clearly the best in the world as he outlined the scale of the challenge facing Manchester United in the title race.

The World Cup winner is relishing United sitting top of the table after 17 games.

Pogba's winner against Burnley on Tuesday put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team top of the standings at this stage of campaign for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season.

The midfielder explained fighting for the biggest trophies is why he returned to the club from Juventus in 2016.

While his agent Mino Raiola has said Pogba wants to leave United, he believes the division his current club play in is tougher than those he would be in if he joined reported suitors Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid.

"That's why I came here," Pogba said to Sky Sports about United's return to the top of the league ahead of Sunday's crucial away game with Liverpool.

"That's why I came back here. It was to go and win.

"Obviously when you come you want to win straight away. But things happen. You try to build, and sometimes things happen you didn't expect, but it's for a good reason. 

"Maybe this year we can win it, who knows? It made us improve, know about ourselves, get more experience, so everything happened for a reason.

"In my head you always want to win the first year, second year, the third year, but it's not as easy as it seems.

"You have teams that have been great as well, our neighbours [Manchester City] have been great.

"Everyone is building teams, buying top players, so obviously this league is the best league in the world, and you know it's not going to be easy."

Pogba form key to United revival

After a difficult start to the season, Pogba's return to form has been important to a United side heavily reliant on the production of Bruno Fernandes.

Pogba previously conceded he was struggling with his recovery from coronavirus and a long-term injury absence in the early stages of the season.

Opta data highlights his level of improvement, which started with the spectacular goal in a comeback win over West Ham on December 5, a performance that came just before Raiola's remarks caused fervent transfer speculation.

From that West Ham game, Pogba has two goals and nine created chances in seven appearances and six starts.

He is averaging 65 passes and 55 completed passes per 90 minutes during that period, second only to Nemanja Matic for United, while his 7.7 recoveries per game ranks fourth among outfield players.

After being in and out the team earlier in the campaign, Pogba has played 576 minutes in the Premier League in that time – behind only captain Harry Maguire (720), Marcus Rashford (646), Fernandes (641) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (630).

Prior to that West Ham game, Pogba started just four times and made seven Premier League appearances.

He did not have a goal or an assist in that period and registered just two key passes. United won three, drew one and lost three of those first seven Premier League outings.

Starting with the West Ham match, the seven Pogba has played have produced five wins, two draws and no defeats.

Marcus Rashford revealed Manchester United's increase in favourable penalty decisions seemed to coincide with advice handed down by Jose Mourinho during his spell as manager.

United have established a remarkable knack of winning spot-kicks over the past couple of years, comfortably earning more than their Premier League counterparts.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the league, United have been awarded 27 in a little over two years, which is already the joint-ninth most ever won by a Premier League manager at one club.

Those 27 have been won in just 76 matches – the other two managers on the same number of spot-kicks won are Roberto Mancini and Mauricio Pochettino, who needed significantly more matches (133 and 202 respectively).

The issue was raised recently by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who claimed United had won more in two years than the Reds had in five-and-a-half years with him – while that is not strictly correct, as the German has won 30, Solskjaer's team are clearly being awarded them with much greater frequency.

Klopp's 30 have come in 123 more matches than Solskjaer, who appears well on track to topple the hauls of Alex Ferguson (59 in 810 games) and Arsene Wenger (80 in 828 games).

Many managers, pundits and fans alike have offered suggestions as to why United get so many, with conclusions ranging from accusations of diving to the idea they simply have more committed dribblers than other teams – but Rashford has an alternative assessment.

Speaking to the Football Writers' Association, Rashford said: "It [appealing for penalties] is worse in training than it is in games – we're having arguments in [training] games, shouting at whoever the referee is, so like you can imagine it's a lot worse in training.

"As a forward line we want to go score goals. Whether you're making runs in behind or dribbling, if you can see a challenge coming you don't want to get tackled because you're looking at an opportunity to score, so there's no way you're going to let someone take the ball off you.

"So, it's just a case of us wanting to score goals and teams wanting to defend goals, penalties can happen.

"But there's been times when we've not got penalties. I remember when Jose was manager, there were five or six times I can remember where I should've had a penalty and Jose ended up saying to me if you're not savvy about the way you do it then you're not going to get it.

"After that we started to get a few – in terms of development, you have to learn it and understand it."

Liverpool and Klopp host title rivals United in an eagerly anticipated top-of-the-table clash on Sunday – no doubt the Reds' manager will be keeping a keen eye on any penalty appeals made by the visitors.

Paul Pogba says Manchester United are capable of winning the Premier League but expects a long title race with many teams still in the running.

United travel to Anfield on Sunday to face champions Liverpool.

Victory would move Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side six points clear of Liverpool after an 11-game unbeaten top-flight run, containing nine wins, catapulted them to the top.

The improved form of Pogba has been crucial to that and he is aware Liverpool represent a huge test, but he told his United team-mates anything was possible this season if they remain focused.

"I think we can win it if we keep our focus but there's a lot of teams that can win it - we are not there yet, we are still very far [away]," he said to Sky Sports about the Premier League title race.

"We have improved a lot, we keep improving but we still have a very young team.

"Obviously we cannot say now we are at the same level as [Liverpool] because they won the Premier League and keep winning so the day we win - that is when we say we are at the same level.

"If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. We want to beat the Premier League winners.

"We know how good they have been playing over the last few years - we know their quality and how they play.

"It's always been a tough game. We know how difficult it will be and we just have to focus and try to stay at the top."

While United have impressed in the league, they were beaten by rivals Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-final last week.

It was the fourth time they have lost in the last four of a competition under Solskjaer.

Asked how United could take the next step, Pogba said: "By always wanting more.

"Always focus on the next game, the most important one. Always the next game, the next game. If you win 3-0, or lose 1-0, it's the next game.

"Keep the focus, keep the mentality, keep strong in the head and keep calm.

"Obviously with confidence that you are going to do it. That's how I see it. You are not a champion until you get the trophy, so you have to keep carrying on."

Dayot Upamecano is set to leave RB Leipzig – but not just yet – while Eric Garcia is getting closer to joining Barcelona.

Upamecano has been linked with several European giants after impressing for the Bundesliga club.

But the defender looks set to stay at the Red Bull Arena until the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – UPAMECANO SET FOR €42M MOVE

Leipzig are not considering selling Upamecano in January even though he can leave for £37.4million (€42m) at the end of the season, according to The Guardian.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have each been linked with a move for the France international.

Upamecano has made 21 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Garcia is seemingly getting closer to a Barcelona move. Sport reports the Manchester City defender is a step away from joining the Catalan giants on a five-year deal and Barca are hopeful a move can happen in January.

- Coming out of contract at the end of the season, Hakan Calhanoglu's future has been a talking point. Sky Sport reports negotiations are ongoing between Milan and the midfielder, who has been linked to United.

- Mauricio Pochettino seems eager to get Dele Alli to Paris Saint-Germain. The Guardian reports the Tottenham midfielder is PSG's main target this transfer window.

- Arkadiusz Milik is set to leave Napoli. CalcioMercato reports Marseille want the striker and had an offer of €8m rejected.

- With Frank Lampard under pressure, Chelsea were reportedly considering bringing back Avram Grant to support the head coach. However, The Sun reports the Premier League giants are not lining up such a move.

The Premier League's relentless schedule continues with matchday 19 this weekend.

Keeping on top of your fantasy teams has been tough with the intense fixture list and increasingly regular postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To make things a little bit easier, we have used Opta data to highlight a few candidates for selection in your side.
 

NICK POPE

Burnley may only be four points clear of the drop zone, but when Pope is in the team they are difficult to beat.

Since the start of November, no goalkeeper to have featured at least four times has conceded fewer than Pope (four).

He has kept five clean sheets during that run and has the best save percentage in the Premier League at 90 per cent.


JOHN STONES

Manchester City are starting to look like Premier League title contenders once again, and a resurgent Stones has played a key role in that.

He has helped his side keep six clean sheets in his eight Premier League appearances this season, the highest percentage among defenders to play more than four games in 2020-21.
 

MARCUS RASHFORD

A mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash between Liverpool and Manchester United is scheduled to take place on Sunday and Rashford will again hope to prove influential in this fixture.

He has scored three goals in his past four Premier League appearances against Liverpool, earning his team four points in the process.

Only Wayne Rooney (six), Andy Cole (four) and Ryan Giggs (four) have found the back of the net against Liverpool more times for United in the Premier League than Rashford.


PEDRO NETO

Wolves host second-bottom West Brom in a West Midlands derby on Saturday.

With Raul Jimenez out due to a fractured skull, Neto has done his best to keep Nuno Espirito Santo's side pushing for a place in the top six.

He has the most Premier League goal involvements (four scored, three assisted) this season of any player aged 21 or younger, while his 32 chances created are twice as many as Bukayo Saka in second.

TOMAS SOUCEK

There is no doubting that Soucek has made himself an important part of David Moyes' West Ham side.

The Czech Republic international is the Hammers' highest-scoring player with five goals. He has also been involved in the most goal-ending open play sequences (seven) for the team this season.

CHRIS WOOD

Burnley may not be the most prolific team in the Premier League but Wood does not find it hard to score against West Ham.

The New Zealand striker has scored six goals in as many top-flight appearances against the Hammers, averaging a goal every 58 minutes.

He has not scored more than four against any other Premier League opponent.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insisted there was "nothing concrete yet" regarding Mesut Ozil's reported move to Fenerbahce.

Ozil, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has been heavily linked with a move to the Turkish giants.

But Arteta said no deal was done yet for the playmaker, who last played for Arsenal in March.

"Well, I don't know how close he's been before," he told a news conference after Thursday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

"There are some conversations going on with [technical director] Edu and the club at the moment, but nothing concrete yet."

The 0-0 draw against Palace means Arsenal have failed to score in seven Premier League matches this season, as many as all of 2019-20.

Arteta accepted the draw was fair, with Arsenal sitting 11th in the table.

"I am disappointed because we wanted to win the game," he said.

"But I think a draw is a fair result because we lacked some freshness and some quality in the final third to win this match."

Arsenal are next in action on Monday, when they host Newcastle United.

Mikel Arteta could not guarantee Kieran Tierney would return for Arsenal's next match against Newcastle United after he missed the goalless draw with Crystal Palace.

Tierney has been one of the Gunners' outstanding performers in a tough season, creating more chances than any other Arsenal player in all competitions (28).

Muscle tightness meant he sat out at home to Palace on Thursday, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles asked to fill in at left-back and struggling.

The England international did not create a single chance, failed to find a team-mate with his only cross, and was replaced by Nicolas Pepe with 25 minutes remaining.

That substitution saw Bukayo Saka – another standout star this term – moved to left-back, yet he also underwhelmed, finishing with only two key passes.

After the stalemate, which ended a four-match winning run in all competitions, Arsenal did not shy away from the significance of Tierney's absence.

"He's a real threat," Arteta told Sky Sports. "In the way we're playing and the way we attack on that left-hand side, he's a really important player.

"We didn't have him, he's injured, and we have to find another solution."

Arsenal do not play again until Monday, but their manager added of Tierney's recovery: "I do not know [if he will be back].

"It depends how he evolves. He's going to have an MRI scan tomorrow and we'll see how he is."

Right-back Hector Bellerin was also quizzed on the impact of his team-mate missing the match.

"I think we do miss every single player when they're not on the pitch, but we also have great players coming back," he said.

"I think Ainsley did a great job again filling in, such a versatile player, but it's true that Kieran also was enjoying very good form.

"We did miss that probably on the left side, but we have very talented players in many areas that can come in. We're not a team that boils down to just one player.

"We need to find ways to be creative, to break down other teams, whatever the challenge they give us, and we need to keep improving on that."

Arsenal kept a first home Premier League clean sheet since July 1 but only after James Tomkins headed against the crossbar and Bernd Leno made a superb save from Christian Benteke.

The Gunners offered little going the other way, having only two shots before half-time and scarcely threatening Vicente Guaita's goal with any of their nine second-half efforts.

A disappointed Bellerin added: "We've been enjoying winning lately. We know that we're doing everything we can, we're working really hard, we're doing what the boss tells us to do.

"But sometimes football games are like this; we cannot win all of them.

"We are in part of a process, we feel like we understand each other on the pitch and the way that the coach wants us to play more and more, then sometimes it's down to the final shot or the final decision. Today we weren't as good in that situation."

Frank Lampard has revealed Chelsea will test out new goal celebrations in training after hugs, handshakes and high fives were reportedly banned by Premier League chiefs.

The Blues boss is supportive of new measures, which are designed to restrict contact and reduce the risk of COVID-19 contagion within football.

Premier League officials have been holding talks with managers and head coaches, plus a number of players, ahead of the weekend fixtures to emphasise the importance of following the protocols.

Lampard is concerned the new rules could lead to bookings or, in the case of second bookings, to red cards if players are penalised for celebrating.

The situation means players at Chelsea's Cobham headquarters will be looking at different ways of enjoying goals ahead of their clash with west London rivals Fulham on Saturday.

Asked if such experiments on the training pitch would be sensible, Lampard said in a news conference: "Yes, I agree.

"We practise social distancing as much as we can in the training ground. On the pitch it can be difficult at times because you have to train and get close to each other.

"In training, I suppose the instinct or the moment shouldn't grab you as much as it would do in games when you're scoring in the Premier League.

"It's something I'll pass on to the players."

Lampard said he was unaware of any moves by Chelsea to bring former head coach Avram Grant back to the club.

That has been reported as an option the club are considering, to bolster Lampard's coaching team after four defeats in six games in the Premier League.

"I don't know anything about it," Lampard said.

Arsenal's winning run came to an end in a dour Premier League goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace on Thursday.

The Gunners had won their past four matches in the league and cup to arrest an alarming slump, but their performances have still not been quite as convincing as results would suggest.

Mikel Arteta's men needed extra time to defeat Newcastle United last time out in the FA Cup and lacked any sort of imagination against Palace as the influential Kieran Tierney sat out with muscle tightness.

Indeed, Arsenal were ultimately fortunate to preserve a first home Premier League clean sheet since July 1 as they stayed 11th.

It quickly became clear the hosts would miss Tierney, their outstanding left-back, whose right-footed deputy Ainsley Maitland-Niles did not provide the same balance on that flank.

Home chances were therefore few and far between before the break and Palace instead twice came close to breaking the deadlock.

James Tomkins met Eberechi Eze's free-kick but nodded against the crossbar, then Bernd Leno was required to use the full length of his frame to reach Christian Benteke's header and claw clear.

There was marginal improvement after the break, yet visiting goalkeeper Vicente Guaita was largely untroubled, watching Rob Holding head wide as Palace extended their unbeaten run against Arsenal to five league matches.

Marcus Rashford has described not playing for Manchester United great Alex Ferguson as his only regret in football.

Rashford made his United debut as an 18-year-old in 2016, just under three years after Ferguson had retired as the manager at Old Trafford.

The England international had been in the United academy since the age of seven, overlapping with Ferguson's hugely successful tenure, but would never work directly with the Scot.

Rashford discussed Ferguson after receiving the Football Writers' Association's Tribute award for his work campaigning to end child poverty in the United Kingdom.

Ferguson has backed the United striker and spoken to him personally, and Rashford told the FWA: "For me, it was an unbelievable experience.

"For me, that's probably the only regret I've ever had in my career: never getting the chance to play under Sir Alex. It's something that is never going to happen now.

"To be on the phone with him and just have 10, 15 minutes conversation was amazing."

Rashford did get the opportunity to play alongside United's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, however, and was effusive in his praise of the former England captain.

"Me and Wayne are different players, we play a lot different on the pitch," Rashford said.

"But in terms of the way he showed his versatility on the pitch, he's what I would consider one of the best players the Premier League has ever seen. You could put him anywhere on the pitch and he just has that football understanding.

"There's a few other players like that, like [Paul] Scholes, where you could play them anywhere and they'll make things happen and they'll give you a good performance.

"For me, despite all the goals he scored, that's one of the things that stood out to me. At the time, I think he was playing number 10 when I first came in, sometimes midfield and sometimes as the number nine.

"I just saw the professional side of it. He was always ready to play and give his best when he was on the pitch. That probably made me mature a little bit as well, seeing how professional he was.

"I'd been a fan of his since I was a kid, watching him score goals left, right and centre, so the goals I knew he was scoring, but this side of it was new to me and I'm glad that I got to experience that."

Ferguson and Rooney were both previous recipients of the FWA Tribute award, along with Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, three other modern United greats.

"As a kid, you want to follow in the footsteps of people you see as heroes," Rashford said.

"I know on my journey to the first team, it was all about doing the things that they'd done, making the same starts that they'd made to get into the same position that they were in.

"I've been lucky enough to be able to experience that journey and make my way into the first team like they did.

"To get this award and for them to have had it before me is an amazing feeling."

But Rashford is not done, having this week continued his work by highlighting the poor quality of free meals given to children, again forcing change.

"We're at the beginning of what I see as a long journey," he added. "I'm definitely not at the stage of relief yet; I feel like there's a lot more that needs to be done and a lot more steps that need to be taken forward."

Timo Werner will become a Chelsea star but it could still "take time" before the goal-starved striker lights up the Premier League, according to Frank Lampard.

Blues boss Lampard has seen Werner fail to score in any of his last nine league games, which means he is mired in his longest drought in top-flight football since 2016 when he went 11 successive matches without finding the net.

On Saturday, Chelsea make the short trip to Fulham, and a Werner goal in the west London derby would come as a major relief to the German forward, his coach and Chelsea fans who may be questioning the investment in the former RB Leipzig man.

Werner struck 28 goals in 34 Bundesliga games last season, finishing second only to Robert Lewandowski (34 goals) in the scoring stakes.

Lampard hopes the time he has spent with Werner on the training pitch over the previous fortnight will pay off, with Chelsea having not had a Premier League game since their January 3 clash with Manchester City.

"I think his performances have been pretty good and I think they're going to get better," Lampard said in a news conference.

"I think it's going slightly unspoken about the fact that a lot players that come into this league are given time to come in and out of the team and feel their way. There are players who have come into the Liverpool team over recent years and have been given time to feel how the team plays.

"Clearly with Timo we didn't have that opportunity because of some injuries in certain positions and because we bought Timo and others to make an impact in our first team straight away.

"People have to be patient with the idea that we'll maximise Timo's talent in this team. That's a two-way street of Timo's work and our work as a group, and it will happen, but of course it can take time."

Werner, 24, has spent a large part of his Chelsea career in a wide role, which may not be the optimum way of using his strengths even if it was a position he often played for Leipzig.

Lampard is considering ways to tease the best out of the £47million man, aware he can fill various roles, and a goal in the FA Cup drubbing of minnows Morecambe last week was welcome.

"With Timo through the middle, it’s clearly an area of the pitch that he likes to start from," said Lampard.

"At Leipzig and with Germany, he's played centrally, he's played on the left, he's played as a lone striker, he's played as one of two strikers, so I see there's definitely room for manoeuvre in how you use Timo."

Werner has scored four Premier League goals in 17 appearances, also hitting the woodwork a league-high five times in his 40 shots.

Of all players with 40 or more shots, only Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne (three goals from 54 shots) has scored fewer times this season.

Chelsea will be tackling a Fulham side who have drawn their last five Premier League games, matching the number of draws they had played out in their previous 45 matches in the top flight.

The Cottagers have won just one of 28 previous Premier League clashes with Chelsea, however, when Chris Coleman's side won 1-0 at home against Jose Mourinho's men in March 2006 – with Lampard in the beaten team that day.

Chelsea lost last time out in the Premier League, going down 3-1 to Pep Guardiola's City, and it was all the way back in 1993 when they last suffered defeats in consecutive league games at the beginning of a year.

Those losses came against City, coincidentally, and Nottingham Forest.

Lampard believes Fulham boss Scott Parker is doing "fantastically well" and said they "played very well" in Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Tottenham.

"They're very well organised and have threats throughout their team," said Lampard.

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