Manchester United will be ringing in 2020 three points richer. Thanks to an Anthony Martial goal shortly before the interval and a late Marcus Rashford goal, the Red Devils defeated Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men went into the match in eighth place and will now head into a contentious January transfer window in fifth, four points off Chelsea.
Here are three things we learned from United’s 2-0 victory against Burnley.
United have found their new left-back
Academy darling Brandon Williams absolutely bossed his defensive responsibilities Saturday, so much so that the youngster could find himself starting ahead of Luke Shaw in future contests.
At 19, Williams has a lot to learn, especially when it comes to careless mistakes that result in bookings. But he’s certainly making a case for more minutes in the Europa League and FA cup matches. His numbers Saturday speaks for themselves.
Brandon Williams' game by numbers vs. Burnley:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 28, 2019
89% pass accuracy
3 fouls won
2 chances created
Another assured display. pic.twitter.com/sfMHj3GSKN
The Englishman has a goal and an assist in under 800 first team minutes this campaign. To his benefit, the boss has not let his progress has not go unnoticed.
“He’s never let us down,” Solskjaer said, via The Independent. “He’s a top young kid, he’s got great attitude and confidence.
“He’s got everything a Man United kid should have.
“You’re never scared of putting Brandon in any type of game.”
Between him and Mason Greenwood, United’s young core is poised to become one of the most memorable in recent years.
Finally, a clean sheet
In the Premier League, United and clean sheets were like oil and water. For the first time in 14 games, ‘keeper David de Gea secured a clean sheet. Sure, the Spaniard isn't completely to blame for surrendering silly goals against the competition, but it’s certainly uplifting for the former Golden Glove winner to emerge victorious for the final time this year. After that howler against Watford, this is surely the beginning of more clean sheets entering the second half of the season.
Away win +3⃣— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) December 28, 2019
Ending the year with a good performance ✅
And finally a clean sheet pic.twitter.com/gWKY1bcOmW
While there are a plethora of things United still need to work on, preventing opponents from putting one past the defense can be something easily rectified with consistency and avoiding silly mistakes.
Pogba’s future remains an enigma
The Frenchman did not travel with the first team squad to Turf Moor this weekend, with Solskjaer explaining that Pogba “didn’t feel right” following United’s Boxing Day win against Newcastle.
That may very well be true, and fans should give Solskjaer the benefit of the doubt. However, Pogba’s ongoing absence could be problematic, consequently fueling rumors regarding his future. Furthermore, it boosts more talk of animosity between the World Cup winner and the club who splashed a then-world record fee for his services in 2016.
United open the new year with a visit to the Emirates to take on Big Six rivals Arsenal. With Pogba given a week at home to rest, he should undoubtedly be ready to suit up against Mikel Arteta’s side. Scott McTominay is nursing a sprain of his own, so United could use a commanding force in the middle. If Pogba misses his second straight match since returning from injury, then questions about his future at Old Trafford are certainly warranted.