After some boring cup games, Manchester United head into the game against Burnley with everything to play for. For one, if they win or even draw the game, they’ll go to the top of the Premier League – for the first time at this point of the season since 2012!
However, Burnley are no pushovers. Despite the Red Devils being unbeaten in away league games this season, they need to maintain utmost focus to get past this hurdle. With a big game against Liverpool at Anfield awaiting them, nothing but a win would be acceptable. To prove themselves as genuine contenders, they must put in another dominant away performance and go home with all three points.
Burnley Likely XI
Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Brady, Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil, Wood, Barnes
Burnley have 4 players sidelined after a Covid-19 outbreak at the club. But a few players like Dwight McNeil should return from injury to give them a boost.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, McTominay, Bruno, Rashford, Martial, Cavani
The bad thing for United is that Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly could miss the game due to injuries. The good thing is Edinson Cavani is back after serving a 3-game suspension, which means he should start.
Burnley vs Manchester United Preview
In the past few weeks, the Premier League results have definitely gone in Man United’s favour. Liverpool has dropped points nobody expected them to, while the Red Devils miraculously improved their home form to grind out some important wins.
Now they’re back to their most comfortable place – anywhere but at Old Trafford! Of course, Turf Moor isn’t the easiest place to visit. Burnley are known for playing the most physical, bullish soccer that can frustrate even the most patient soccer fans. But United have been too good away from home not to head into this full of confidence.
Being in desperate need of a win to solidify their stance at the top of the league, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will probably go with his most pragmatic, strongest XI available. That means a front-3 Cavani-Marcus Rashford– Anthony Martial should lead the line as United aim to break down Burnley’s rigid backline.
Coming off a ridiculous 3-match ban, Cavani is in great shape. Being a physical, instinctive striker, he should thrive under the conditions of Turf Moor. With the Uruguayan hungry to prove a point, he’ll probably be at his sharpest, making those clever runs into goal-scoring positions & make good use of his predatorial instincts.
He will, of course, need better service. Rashford has looked promising down the right-wing in recent games and should love playing against Burnley’s slow full-backs. With his pace & penetrative ability intact, he just needs to improve his decision-making in the final third to create something special.
Martial has again hit a rough patch, but should be more comfortable playing down the left. Using his dribbling ability & fantastic tendency to cause damage while cutting in from the left, he’ll provide a different dimension to their attack. Then, there’s of course the magnificent Bruno Fernandes.
After being rested for the FA Cup game at the weekend, he’ll be more energized than usual. While he could struggle under the physicality, Bruno’s intelligence can triumph over Burnley’s ruggedness. The Portuguese midfielder loves getting among the goals in away games and will look to use his creativity to set up goals & make better movements into the final third to score them too!
Scott McTominay should get a start after captaining United against Watford in the FA Cup, but needs to add more going forward. He & Nemanja Matic are both perfectly built to deal with Burnley’s physicality & should get the better of them in midfield.
But what United need to be most cautious about is their opponents’ threat in set-pieces. The Red Devils have looked very vulnerable defending in set-pieces this season & conceded too many goals from that. Burnley have some towering individuals who are excellent in converting chances from set-piece scenarios.
Indeed, the likes of Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood, Ben Mee & James Tarkowski are all extremely suited to exploit United’s set-piece vulnerability and can easily score from those situations. Mix that with the impressive crossing ability of Dwight McNeil, Robbie Brady & Erik Pieters, you have a recipe for danger.
Harry Maguire is a monster in the air, but needs to set-up his side better to win the battles during set-pieces. Moreover, Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Luke Shaw need to stop crosses from coming into their box as they also look to create chances by making clever crosses into the opposition’s areas!
This could be a bit of a cagey encounter because of how stubborn Burnley are. United will need something special to come out on top & it’s time for their attacking players to prove they’re good enough to become champions by being absolutely ruthless upfront.
Burnley will make life difficult for United, but I think the Red Devils have enough quality to just overpower them. I’ll go with a 2-1 win for Solskjaer’s side.