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Manchester United are top of the Premier League for the first time in two and a half years as Paul Pogba's deflected second-half strike was enough to see them past Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Frenchman volleyed in from the edge of the area after being set up by Marcus Rashford to earn all three points for the Red Devils.

It came after Harry Maguire had seen a first-half goal ruled out by referee Kevin Friend, while the official opted not to send off either Robbie Brady or Luke Shaw for incidents within seconds of each other prior to Maguire's disallowed header.

The result leaves Burnley on 16 points from their 16 games, five points clear of Fulham who occupy the final relegation spot.

Here are 5 talking points from Turf Moor…

1. Friend or foe?

Friend opted to show a yellow card to Shaw
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It was a busy old first half for referee Kevin Friend.

We had one of the more bizarre VAR instances as Friend blew for a foul by Burnley’s Robbie Brady with Edinson Cavani bearing down on goal and issued a yellow card.

But the official was then asked to check whether there had been a foul worthy of a red card by Luke Shaw at the other end of the pitch prior to United breaking down the field.

After a long delay, it was unclear whether Shaw was going to be sent off for violent conduct, Brady was going to be sent off for the denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, or neither.

As it happened, Friend deemed Shaw’s challenge a foul and worthy of a booking – but not a dismissal – which rendered Brady’s tackle irrelevant and he saw his yellow card rescinded. Clear?

Minutes later, Friend then controversially denied Harry Maguire the opener for a push as he headed into the back of the net. VAR sided with the official.

A Friend in one moment and a foe in the next.

2. Paul-ing his weight again

Pogba's goal was enough to secure the three points
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

Manchester United's record signing Paul Pogba was apparently certain to leave this month, according to Mino Raiola.

The superagent, who represents Pogba, claimed the Frenchman is unhappy at Old Trafford, adding it would be better for all parties if he was sold.

Solskjaer was furious about the announcement, which was made mid-season and on the eve of Man United's Champions League defeat by RB Leipzig.

Raiola later backed down slightly, saying Pogba will most likely leave in the summer instead.

But since the shock announcement, World Cup winning-midfielder Pogba has been a rejuvenated player at United, and was the Red Devils' man of the match against Burnley.

He was even on the scoresheet with a sensational half-volleyed effort from outside the box.

Whether it's because Pogba feels he has some making up to do, due to his agent's comments, or whether it's because he feels this United team could actually win the title this season that is spurring him on, remains to be seen.

But Solskjaer won't mind whatever his motivation is as long as his performances continue.

3. Keep your Beek out

Van de Beek had a watching brief at Turf Moor
(Image: Manchester United via Getty Imag)

Summer-signing Donny van de Beek was in the news once again last week after more ex-pros came out to offer him advice.

This time it was the turn of Ronald de Boer and Dimitar Berbatov, with the pair suggesting the Dutchman should speak to United chiefs to clarify his position at the club or face falling further down the pecking order at Old Trafford, and out of favour with Holland.

Solskjaer played down there being any sort of issue at United ahead of the win over Watford, telling the press that Van de Beek will start in the FA Cup.

And he did.

But Premier League football resumed this Tuesday and Van de Beek found himself back in his regular position at United, on the bench.

The midfielder cut a forlorn figure sat behind Solskjaer as if the hope his boss was going to turn around and tell him to warm up has been entirely lost.

It's highly unlikely Van de Beek will look to leave this January, but if he is continually overlooked – especially in the Premier League – then he may have a big decision to make at the end of the season.

4. Burnley are far from worm feed

Burnley were typically resolute
(Image: Getty Images)

Sean Dyche's Burnley are in the mix of clubs who could go down this Premier League season, as they are tipped to be most years.

But the United defeat is evidence alone that the Clarets won't be going anywhere.

Solskjaer's Manchester United are the in-form team in the top-flight at the moment, and yet they struggled to break down this Burnley side.

Pogba's goal was excellent, and you can take nothing away from the Frenchman, but it took a stunning effort, and a slight deflection, to beat Nick Pope on Tuesday, as nothing else was going to.

Dyche has his defence so well drilled that they are incredibly difficult to break down.

Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes were trying all night, but they were left largely frustrated.

The Clarets have always been hard to beat, and this is undoubtedly the secret to Dyche's success and longevity.

5. It's Turf at the top

United are top for the first time in two and a half years
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

August 10 2018.

That was the last time Manchester United had occupied top spot in the Premier League after a 2-1 victory over Leicester in the first game of the campaign.

But they're back at the summit now and this is the latest in the season they have been top since they won the title in 2012-13 – Sir Alex Ferguson's last term in charge at Old Trafford.

Few saw United as genuine title contenders before a ball was kicked in this campaign – and even fewer after their 6-1 drubbing by Tottenham at the Theatre of Dreams in October.

But they are bang in the race and a positive result at Anfield on Sunday will get their fans really daring to dream.