This Sunday sees Premier League leaders Liverpool host Manchester United, rivals who sit 27 points below them in the table.

There has been a clear gulf in class between Jurgen Klopp's side, who have accrued a whopping 61 points from a possible 63 across 21 fixtures, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, who have suffered defeats at Watford, Bournemouth and Newcastle United already this term.

Yet one bright spark for United has been the form of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, an attacking duo who have combined for more goals than Liverpool pair Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Rashford faces a battle to be fit for the game having come off against Wolves in Wednesday's FA Cup replay due to a back injury, but just how do the quartet compare when fully fit, and how have they evolved in 2019-20? We crunched the numbers to find out.

 

RASHFORD AND MARTIAL: FROM PROFLIGATE TO POTENT

Salah (10) and Mane (11) have combined for 21 league goals (42 per cent of Liverpool's 50 goals), while Rashford (14) and Martial (8) have scored 22 (61 per cent of United's 36 goals).

The United duo's success in front of goal has come thanks to their ability to convert big chances. Excluding penalties, Rashford has scored eight of his 15 big chances, converting 53.8 per cent compared to 23.8 per cent last season.

Martial, with five goals from nine big chances, is even more efficient (55.6 per cent) and both United forwards have better big-chance conversion rates than Salah (50 per cent) and Mane (30 per cent).

Mane has had more big chances than the rest of the quartet, but having scored 15 of his 26 big chances in the 2018-19 league campaign he has netted only six of 20 this time around.

 

RASHFORD'S LEAP FORWARD

It is not just in front of goal where Rashford has shown an improvement and become a greater focus of United's attack.

The England international is averaging more touches per game this season (43.68 to 37.18), more touches in the opposition box per game (5.45 to 4.81) and has taken more shots (74) than any of Salah (66), Mane (49) or Martial (40).

Rashford switched between central and wide berths last term but is now firmly established on the left side of United's attack with a clear purpose.

The one statistic that perhaps outlines that most is that Rashford has attempted an astonishing 57 more dribbles than Salah this season.

 

ALEXANDER-ARNOLD ALTERS SALAH'S ROLE?

Last season only four players - Eden Hazard, Wilfried Zaha, Nathan Redmond and Raheem Sterling - completed more dribbles than Salah's 81, but in this campaign it's a different story.

The Reds forward has attempted just 49 - far fewer than Mane (67) - while he has completed fewer dribbles (23) than team-mates Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.

Salah led the Premier League for touches in the box in 2018-19 (322), and only Sterling is ahead of him this time, but he has had far fewer touches overall than Mane (764 to 1,000) having led the Senegalese (1,820 to 1,807) in the previous campaign.

That might have something to do with right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold's ascent. Alexander-Arnold leads the league in touches (2,137) and is second in assists, showing that he, and not Salah, is now the focus of attacks down the Liverpool right.

A 27-POINT GAP, BUT SIMILAR ATTACKING STATISTICS

One glance at the table suggests there are few similarities between Klopp's runaway leaders and Solskjaer's Jekyll and Hyde outfit.

However, a more in-depth dive into the numbers shows there has actually been little to separate the two in many attacking senses.

Liverpool have created 258 chances to United's 241, and have only conjured up five more from open play and 10 from set-pieces.

The common theory is that United are far more effective on the counter attack, yet both teams have scored four times from fast breaks, with Solskjaer's men having 20 fast breaks to Liverpool's 18.

A big difference between the two is the quality of opportunities created, Liverpool accumulating 56 big chances to United's 34, which points to a clear lack of creativity in Solskjaer's ranks. Couple that with their defensive fragility (United's four clean sheets to Liverpool's eight) and it becomes more obvious just why the two are miles apart in the table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tempered the excitement surrounding Manchester United talent Mason Greenwood, adamant it is too early to be thinking of potential England involvement at Euro 2020.

United academy product Greenwood has enjoyed a breakout season, making 17 Premier League appearances – all but two of them from the bench – after being introduced to the first-team fold by Solskjaer last term.

The 18-year-old has four goals in the league this season, plus another five across the EFL Cup and Europa League, in which only four players have scored more.

With Harry Kane a doubt for the Euros after suffering a torn hamstring that required surgery and Jamie Vardy unavailable for selection following his international retirement, Greenwood has emerged as an option for England manager Gareth Southgate.

Greenwood made four appearances for the England Under-21s last year and for the time being Solskjaer thinks he should be allowed to focus on United and Young Lions duty.

"I think Mason will have a top and long career," Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay with Wolves.

"Let the boy settle in now first, before we talk about England and the Euros.

"His focus has to be on playing more for us and improving, and when he plays more for us, that [and England call-up] will happen by itself.

"He's just been picked for the England Under-21s, so he's focusing on his football."

Greenwood is just one of three forward thriving at United this season, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also enjoying strong campaigns.

Rashford already has 19 goals from 30 matches across all competitions, while Martial has 11 in 22 outings – but Solskjaer does not think he deserves a pat on the back for their respective improvements.

"I don't want credit for getting more out of them," he said. "They're working hard to improve their game, I think they've all done well.

"Of course, Mason is in his first season, so to have nine goals is fantastic. Marcus is really growing and improving all the time, and Anthony has missed about six-to-eight weeks.

"I'm impressed by them. They're working well, working on their finishing patterns, we want consistency and I think we'll see more and more of them as they're still very young."

Manchester United bounced back from defeat to Manchester City in emphatic fashion, as Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata inspired a comfortable 4-0 win over rock-bottom Norwich City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were woefully inept in the 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg loss at Etihad Stadium, but on Saturday they found their groove, playing some eye-catching football en route to a straightforward win.

Norwich, who were without injured talismanic forward Teemu Pukki, rarely troubled United in a first half dominated by the home side, who went into the interval 1-0 up after Mata teed up Rashford.

Rashford got his second from the penalty spot early in the second period, before Mata – starting only a third Premier League game since the start of October – set up Anthony Martial to extend the lead and Mason Greenwood finished Norwich off, as United held on to fifth place to stay five points adrift of Chelsea.

Despite establishing control almost immediately, United struggled to create clear chances during the early exchanges.

But Juan Mata carved the Canaries open in the 27th minute, cutting in off the right flank and playing a lofted pass towards the back post for Rashford to turn in.

Norwich highlighted the precariousness off United's slender lead just before the break, when David de Gea just about reached Todd Cantwell's curling effort.

Tim Krul was less impressive at the other end just after the break, however, rushing out and sending Brandon Williams tumbling in the box, allowing Rashford to sweep home the resulting penalty.

Martial got in on the act two minutes later, heading in Mata's right-wing cross after Norwich switched off at a corner.

Williams should have increased the lead when he blazed over from a couple of yards out, but there was to be another moment for United to savour, as Greenwood – Rashford's replacement – drilled into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards to wrap up the win in 76th minute.

What does it mean? Solskjaer can rest easy… For now

After the loss to Pep Guardiola's men, and the manner of the defeat, the pressure on Solskjaer was ramped up once again, as it was a third successive match across all competitions without a win.

There is no denying United were massively improved on Saturday, with the midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira and Fred using the ball much quicker than perhaps they have been known to, but with a trip to Anfield on the horizon, Solskjaer cannot assume he is completely safe.

Mata makes it happen

Given United's problems breaking many teams down this season, it is surprising Mata has only been afforded six Premier League starts. Against Norwich, he made two key passes and both lead to goals, making a decisive impact.

A day to forget for Krul

While there was not a great deal Krul could have done for most of the goals, his decision to rush out and foul Williams for the penalty was unnecessary and left Norwich with a mountain to climb.

What's next?

United return to FA Cup action on Wednesday, as they host Wolves in their third-round replay, before going to league leaders Liverpool four days later. Norwich host Bournemouth next Saturday.

Mikel Arteta tasted victory for the first time since taking charge of Arsenal after Nicolas Pepe's third league goal of the season put his side on course for a 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Emirates Stadium.

Ivory Coast international Pepe capitalised on a nervous start to the game by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who lost for only the second time in 10 league games after failing to expose Arsenal's flaws in the way Chelsea had done in a 2-1 win on the same ground three days earlier.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos doubled Arsenal's lead just before half-time and the hosts' improvement was testament to Arteta's impact on a squad that has appeared disjointed for much of this season.

The revived performances of Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka in the Gunners' midfield will have particularly pleased the coach, who delivered Arsenal's second victory in 13 gruelling Premier League games that had seen them drop into the bottom half of the table, this result lifting them back up to 10th and offering cause for optimism at the start of 2020.

Marcus Rashford sent a shot dipping into Bernd Leno's arms from 25 yards in the first minute as United showed their threat on the break.

But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's trickery set Sead Kolasinac free in the United box after just eight minutes and his cross deflected into the path of Pepe, who swept into the net from 12 yards to get the hosts off to an excellent start.

Pepe went agonisingly close to doubling Arsenal's lead seven minutes before half-time when David de Gea's careless clearance fell to him 20 yards out and he curled a shot onto the post with the United goalkeeper flailing.

But Arsenal kept the pressure on an embattled United defence and got their reward when Alexandre Lacazette flicked a corner into a crowd of defenders before it bounced to Sokratis, who lashed it high into the net from close range.

Fred tied his luck with a rising shot from 25 yards 10 minutes into the second half, but Leno claimed it comfortably as United struggled to create the space they needed to trouble Arsenal.

Nemanja Matic did carve out an opportunity with a clever ball into the area a few moments later but substitute Andreas Pereira hit the side-netting with his angled effort.

A foot injury to Kolasinac was the only fly in the ointment for Arsenal, who will hope this victory marks the beginning of a push towards a place in the top six that only recently looked very much beyond them.

 

What does it mean? The end of a long wait at the Emirates

Arsenal's previous home victory in the Premier League came all the way back on October 6, when they beat Bournemouth 1-0, but the way Arteta's men stuck to their task and bettered United all over the pitch will have satisfied fans as much as the result.

Attack the best form of defence for Kolasinac

Kolasinac's surging runs gave United no rest as Arsenal attacked with an extra man throughout the first half, and he kept up his all-action display down the left flank to ensure Ozil always had an option out wide.

Martial goes missing

The service directed towards him was intermittent, but when Anthony Martial did receive the ball in dangerous areas he was too often slow to react and opted to isolate himself in an advanced position rather than dropping deep to help his toiling midfield colleagues.

What's next?

Arsenal are at home again on Monday when Leeds United visit in the FA Cup, following the Red Devils' trip to Wolves in the same competition on Saturday.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed his side's ability to "grind out results" after the Red Devils survived a flurry of late Burnley chances to triumph 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Anthony Martial scored his third goal in two games one minute before half-time to put United ahead in a game they dominated for long periods, but hosts Burnley heaped pressure on David De Gea's goal in the final 15 minutes at Turf Moor.

A late United break produced a second goal when Daniel James played in Marcus Rashford for his 12th Premier League strike of the season and clinched a result that moved the Red Devils up to fifth in the table, just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Solskjaer admitted his players should have put the game to bed sooner but praised their performance following back-to-back victories, describing himself as "very happy".

"In the first half I thought we were very good," said Solskjaer. "We controlled it, dominated it, scored a nice goal. Second half of course there's going to be a couple of instances in your box because they're desperate to get a goal and throwing men forward.

"We could have finished the game off really, we had some great counter-attacking chances. We should have got the second goal earlier but there was some great defending.

"It's important for us to know that we can grind out results as well, even though when you score one you don't always win. If we can get clean sheets we've got a chance to move up the table."

United travel to Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal on New Year's Day and Solskjaer called for his players to maintain the momentum that has helped them go nine matches with just one defeat in all competitions – a 2-0 reverse at Watford on December 22.

With Martial and Rashford hitting form, United will be widely backed to get a result against an Arsenal side adapting to life with a new head coach Mikel Arteta at the helm.

Solskjaer said his forwards must be less wasteful than they were against Burnley, adding: "You're always kicking yourself when you don't take your chances. There were so many great counter-attacking opportunities, when we made wrong decisions or were a little bit too slow to get the finish off, but it was an excellent performance.

"Let's see what we do against Arsenal. We want to keep that momentum going. Two wins after a disappointing game against Watford. Happy with that. Good response. The boys are learning."

Anthony Martial scored his third goal in two Premier League matches to help Manchester United to a 2-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor that moves the Red Devils up to fifth in the table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men kept their first clean sheet in the league since September and successfully broke down Burnley's packed defence with some patient attacking play, forcing the opener just before half-time and doubling their lead in second-half stoppage time through Marcus Rashford.

After losing 2-0 at Watford in their previous away game, United delivered the improvements they sorely needed at the back while dominating possession in midfield despite the absence of Paul Pogba, who was rested following his return to fitness, as they built on a 4-1 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

Burnley were looking to make it three league wins from four but failed to recover from an error by full-back Charlie Taylor that led to Martial's strike, squandering a flurry of late opportunities before Rashford scored his 12th league goal of the season.

Rashford stung Nick Pope's palms with a free-kick from 30 yards in a cagey opening spell in which the England forward also hit the outside of the post with a low, first-time shot from the edge of the box.

The ball fell to Martial little more than six yards out after 33 minutes, but the France international's effort was crucially blocked on the line by former United defender Phil Bardsley.

Having kept the visitors at bay for 44 minutes, Burnley self-destructed when Taylor fumbled possession and allowed Andreas Pereira to feed Martial, who took a touch and stroked a low shot past Pope into the bottom-right corner.

Martial had the ball in the net again four minutes into the second half, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on James Tarkowski and Burnley almost equalised when Bardsley's angled drive drew a diving save from David de Gea.

Harry Maguire brought down Jack Cork on the edge of the United box to present substitute Johann Gudmundsson with a chance from a free-kick, but the Iceland international blazed over the crossbar.

Burnley threatened an equaliser throughout a frenetic final 15 minutes only to be caught out right at the end when Daniel James sprinted over the half-way line in posession and squared to Rashford, who rounded Pope before scoring his second in as many games.

 

What does it mean? Creativity shortage sets up tense finish

Solskjaer will have been pleased to see his defence cut out the errors that cost them dearly at Vicarage Road but a failure to put the game to bed sooner might have been punished by a side better than Burnley.

Rashford runs Burnley ragged

Finding a link between midfield and attack has often been United's problem against sides who sit back this season, but the immense amount of ground covered by Rashford – who frequently dropped deep to carry the visitors forward – solved that here. He then rounded off the win in the latter stages.

Taylor toils in tussle with James

James has proven himself to be a handful for Premier League defences since he joined United in January and Clarets left-back Taylor struggled to cope with him, playing misplaced passes and getting forced into errors by the rapid Wales winger.

What's next?

While Burnley will fancy their chances of taking three points when Aston Villa visit Turf Moor on New Year's Day, United could find victory harder to come by against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again compared Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo after Manchester United's win over Newcastle United.

Rashford scored his 11th Premier League goal of the season – his best tally in a campaign – in the 4-1 Boxing Day victory at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has compared the 22-year-old to former United star Ronaldo previously and the manager did so again after Rashford's superb header.

"He is a physical specimen. He's looking after himself, working hard in the gym," he told a news conference.

"When you've got that spring, it's just about having courage and getting up there.

"I remember a boy I used to play with that used to head it quite well when he was close to goal. And we compare them quite often.

"So, that's another string to his bow Marcus that Cristiano used to get when he was getting to that age as well."

Anthony Martial netted a brace and Mason Greenwood also scored against Newcastle, who had taken the lead through Matty Longstaff.

Martial is up to six goals in the Premier League this season and Solskjaer said his team needed to make better use of the France forward.

"The key is to give him the ball. He's not going to be the one who runs down the channels all day long," he said.

"We need to give him the ball and feed him. I think the boys have said that many times themselves. We need to feed Anthony more, play forward more and into the frontmen.

"Especially Anthony, it's important for him to touch the ball a lot then he feels in the game. Today was almost the same goal as he scored against [Manchester] City, down to the bottom with his left foot. It could have been his hat-trick."

United are seventh, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, and make the trip to Burnley on Saturday.

Manchester United return to winning ways as Anthony Martial scored twice in a 4-1 triumph over a generous Newcastle United side at Old Trafford.

Having lost 2-0 to then-bottom Watford last time out, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side appeared to be suffering a Christmas hangover when they fell behind to Matty Longstaff's 17th-minute opener on Boxing Day.

Manchester United's defence had been given an early reprieve when Dwight Gayle carelessly blazed over when clean through, but Longstaff – scorer of the only goal in the reverse fixture back in early October – made them pay, collecting Joelinton's layoff before angling a low shot beyond David de Gea.

However, any thoughts Steve Bruce may have harboured of completing a league double over his former club had disappeared by half-time.

Martial drew the home side level when his low first-time shot from Andreas Pereira's cushioned pass crept in at the near post, the ball squeezing beyond Martin Dubravka to reach the net.

Newcastle then gifted the hosts a second, their attempts to play their way out of trouble only seeing Fabian Schar play a pass straight across his own penalty area to Mason Greenwood, who let loose a thumping left-footed drive that flashed beyond Dubravka with the aid of a slight deflection.

Marcus Rashford climbed above Schar to head home Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s inviting cross and make it 3-1 by the interval, while Martial added a fourth when converting a one-on-one opportunity early in the second half.

The Frenchman was once again the beneficiary of a present from the visitors, played clear by Sean Longstaff's under-hit back pass. Denied a hat-trick by a post, he was withdrawn with the crowded festive fixture list in mind.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his Manchester United players are looking forward to "a nice little draw" after they were pitted against Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-finals following their 3-0 win over Colchester United.

Goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial either side of a Ryan Jackson own goal ensured the Red Devils made light work of their League Two opponents at Old Trafford, but Solskjaer felt his players let their standards slip across the course of the game.

Colchester held Crystal Palace and Tottenham to draws before beating both sides on penalties in earlier rounds of the competitions and Solskjaer was more impressed by his side's performance in a goalless first half against the U's than he was after the interval.

"We dominated, created chances, but you're never sure until you get the first goal," said the former United striker.

"They've had 0-0 against Palace and Tottenham, they are a good, hard team to break down. We created enough chances first half to put it to bed but then at least we got goals in the second half.

"If we kept playing like the first half I would have been happy but in the second half we were miles worse.

"We created more chances in the first half, we dominated, we were more patient; second half we did not make as many good decisions but we scored the goals."

United will play City in the semi-final over two legs, during weeks commencing January 6 and 27.

Solskjaer's men beat City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on December 7 and the United boss seemed pleased with the draw.

"You always want to win trophies and you want to win games and we got a nice little draw," he said.

"It'll be exciting times coming up.

"I don't feel anything is written in the stars; you just work hard, take what you get and do the best out of it.

"We've shown before that we can do well against City and teams like that."

Marcus Rashford scored his fourth goal in five games as Manchester United netted three times in 10 second-half minutes to beat Colchester United 3-0 in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men put the Old Trafford faithful through a drab first half in which they failed to make 80 per cent of the possession count, Rashford broke the deadlock six minutes into the second period with a fine solo effort.

Rashford would have had a second five minutes later had Colchester's Ryan Jackson not put through his own net, and the in-form forward then provided an assist for Anthony Martial to score his seventh goal of the season in all competitions.

The flurry of goals was no less than the Red Devils deserved for a fluid second-half display, with Colchester, who are ninth in League Two, made to pay for errors that had been absent in penalty shoot-out victories over Crystal Palace and Tottenham earlier in the competition.

Rashford sent a free-kick dipping wide from an acute angle early on, and Colchester goalkeeper Dean Gerken was then forced into a low reflex save when the England man's cross was deflected goalwards by Brandon Comley.

Colchester defended with 11 players behind the ball for much of the first half and, in doing so, exposed Anthony Martial's limitations as a target man, the France international's presence largely nullified by the visitors' packed, physical rearguard.

When Martial did receive the ball in space on the cusp of half-time, he hit a swerving shot from 20 yards that whistled narrowly wide of the top corner.

Ryan Jackson missed a one-on-one wtih Sergio Romero early in the second half whereafter Nemanja Matic immediately released Rashford, who burst through on goal, skipped across the penalty area, with Colchester defenders scrambling, and lashed the ball high into the net from 12 yards.

The second soon followed when Mason Greenwood's dangerous cross from the right hit Jackson's thigh and dropped into the net, with Rashford lurking.

The third was the pick of the bunch, Juan Mata sending a curling, weighted pass to Rashford's feet in the box, where the forward crossed first time for Martial to bundle home.

The visitors improved in the final 20 minutes and two chances fell to striker Luke Norris, but the best he could muster was a shot into Romero's midriff as the minnows' fine run ended without a consolation goal.
 

What does it mean? Silverware in sight for Solskjaer

In a season that has at times been gruelling for Solskjaer, winning any trophy would feel represent significant success, and he will hope the likes of Rashford and Martial can maintain the sharpness they are showing in front of goal going into the semi-finals.

Rashford leads the line

On an evening when it took him a few fluffed chances to get his eye in, Rashford kept up his recent habit of turning games in Manchester United's favour with an opening goal that oozed confidence.

Jackson goes from dangerous to bad

A matter of moments after he looked set to score a goal that would have been the crowning moment of his career, Colchester full-back Jackson could only watch as Rashford exploited the space he left vacant to score with ease.

What's next?

Solskjaer takes his men to Watford on Sunday for a clash with the Premier League's bottom club, giving United the chance to go seven top-flight games unbeaten. Colchester are at home to Carlisle United in League Two on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Manchester United's current strike force to the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as he hailed the versatility of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Rashford and Martial were on target as United beat Manchester City in last weekend's derby at the Etihad Stadium, and Solskjaer believes the young England forward is showing signs he can follow in the footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Solskjaer and Ronaldo spent four years together as players at Old Trafford, before the Norwegian worked with his former team-mate as a forwards coach, and few people are better placed to compare the Juventus star with Rashford.

Speaking about the fluid movement and interchanging positional play of Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I think that's a big strength of ours as a team.

"If Marcus runs in behind, Anthony will get some space because it stretches the opponent. It can be the opposite way around too, with Anthony and Dan running in behind and Marcus coming to feet to get on the ball.

"I see this attack as being quite similar to the one we had with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, with the interchanging of positions and the fast, flowing football."

Under Solskjaer, Rashford has equalled his best Premier League goal return in a single season within the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Rashford's 10th league goal of the season came from the penalty spot against City and Solskjaer praised the 22-year-old's versatility while drawing comparisons with Ronaldo, who played on the wing and as a striker during his time in Manchester.

"Of course it's hard to say with certainty that he's going to be as good as Cristiano, but you can see the similarities more and more in terms of Marcus' traits on the pitch," said Solskjaer.

"He can play through the middle, he can play as a number nine, he can cut inside from the left and finish. He can even play on the right, as Cristiano did when he came here. He's got the same physical stature and more or less all of his attributes are very, very similar. Even their stats are similar, in terms of goals scored after a certain amount of games."

"You have to remember that, as well as playing with Cristiano, I coached him in my first year as a forwards coach here," he added.

"Both players are very professional, very dedicated, very in love with football. And you can see that Marcus is getting more of a taste for that now, both with us and with England. He is pushing himself and seeing the results."

Manchester United have the firepower to push for a top-four finish in the Premier League, says Harry Maguire, but the defender stated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side must not get ahead of themselves.

United claimed their second successive victory as they secured a 2-1 derby victory over Manchester City on Saturday, three days after defeating Tottenham - managed by former boss Jose Mourinho - by the same scoreline.

The wins have taken United up to fifth, five points shy of fourth-place Chelsea, who on Saturday lost 3-1 to managerless Everton - United's next opponents in the league.

With Marcus Rashford having already matched his total tally of league goals from last season and Anthony Martial having netted what proved to be the winner against City, Maguire believes United's frontline has the quality to push them towards Champions League qualification.

However, the England centre-back is adamant United's squad will stay grounded, with the league outside of the top four still heavily congested.

"I think you need to look after your own results, don't look elsewhere, keep winning games," Maguire told Sky Sports. "We've won back-to-back games against Spurs and City. We've got another big game next week now.

"The top four is in sight but we just keep looking after our own results, keep trying to get the three points and keep improving.

"Over the last month or so, I feel like as a defender I look at the forwards and think they're going to score goals.

"At the start of the season, we didn't really score more than one goal in a game but now I think it's a few games on the spin where we're back to scoring goals.

"They're a big threat, they're top players, great talent and I think it's all coming together now."

Before hosting Everton on Sunday, United face AZ in their final Europa League group match, with an EFL Cup quarter-final against Colchester United coming up prior to the festive period.

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City could not live with the pace of Manchester United's attacking players in Saturday's 2-1 derby defeat.

Visitors United constantly exposed their opponents on the counter at the Etihad Stadium, helping them move into a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour.

Marcus Rashford won and then converted a penalty before Anthony Martial fired in a second after being picked out by Daniel James.

Guardiola talked up United's counter-attacking threat on the eve of the match, but the City head coach has admitted his side ultimately had no answer to the trio.

"I like how my team played," he said at his post-match news conference. "We conceded a little bit more space - not more than usual, but more than last year against United.

"We knew about the pace they have, with James, Martial and Rashford, but sometimes it is not possible to control it."

Nicolas Otamendi pulled a goal back for City five minutes from the end, but there was to be no comeback for the reigning champions as their title hopes were dealt another blow.

"In general, we did what we like," Guardiola added. "We arrived in the final third many, many, many, many times. 

"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish a little bit more, but I like to watch my team. I know nobody agrees but I like it."

Third-place City are now 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 earlier on Saturday, and travel to Arsenal for their next league outing.

The home loss means Guardiola has the lowest points tally after 16 games of a season in his senior coaching career, but he is not surprised by the drop-off in form since last term.

"Sometimes it happens," he added. "Sometimes you don't win and the others are better and you lose. Normal is not winning the league always, sometimes you lose.

"It is important not to give up and try to do what we do as a team. All the games we play a season we play the game I want my team to play. 

"After that, the counter-attacks, the final third, when we struggle in some departments okay, it's part of the process. Maybe next season we will be better."

Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw have come into the Manchester United team for a crunch derby against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.

Forward Martial takes the place of young striker Mason Greenwood, while Shaw steps in at left-back for Ashley Young.

Both Greenwood and Young were named as substitutes by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It means United will start with Martial in attack along with Marcus Rashford, who scored both his side's goals in the 2-1 win over Tottenham on Wednesday, and Daniel James.

With captain Young out of the starting XI, Harry Maguire takes the armband for the visitors.

City boss Pep Guardiola has made a single alteration to the side that trounced Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday, as England defender John Stones replaces Nicolas Otamendi, who begins on the bench.

United sit eighth in the Premier League and are in desperate need of following one strong performance with another, to show they can produce consistently under Solskjaer's much-scrutinised leadership.

Reigning champions City, meanwhile, begin the game a distant 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who were resounding 3-0 winners at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged Marcus Rashford to maintain his impressive scoring form as he urged Manchester United to show consistency in Saturday's derby.

United head to the Etihad Stadium with renewed belief following their 2-1 midweek win over Tottenham but will again be without the injured Paul Pogba, who has not played since September.

Anthony Martial will be available, albeit potentially from the bench, as United seek to make a dent in Manchester City's title aspirations.

Rashford scored both goals against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, having found net the freely since mid-October.

His pace on the counter will be crucial to United's hopes of breaking down a side that has not kept a clean sheet in eight attempts, and manager Solskjaer backed the England international to continue blossoming as a reliable goalscorer.

"He's doing that at the moment," said the United boss.

"How he didn't get the goal against Aston Villa is beyond me but he's consistently scoring now. It's not like four in one and two or three without. It's not just in spurts and that's encouraging.

"He's consistently getting chances and getting into better positions. On Wednesday he was unbelievable and we want to see that again."

Solskjaer sought to extract the same response from Rashford's team-mates after United ended a three-match winless streak with the Old Trafford triumph over Tottenham.

United have not won consecutive Premier League matches since March.

"We're going away against arguably the best team in England, so of course it's going to be a difficult game but we need consistency," Solskjaer said.

"I said it before the Tottenham game, everyone was doom and gloom, but it's a chance to turn that doubt into belief and for us, if we can manage to get another performance, the confidence [will grow].

"The way we played against Tottenham, if we can do that at the Etihad I'm sure we can come out of it with a result.

"People say: 'Why do you not have better results in other games?' But the Premier League is hard, no matter who you play, it's margins. I think it's a compliment to the league."

Solskjaer said he hoped midfielder Pogba would return from his long-running ankle injury before the end of December.

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