Manchester United are back in Premier League action and will be looking to win their fifth game in a row. In their way will be a stubborn Burnley side that will be desperate for points as they aim to drag themselves away from the relegation dog-fight.
The Reds could go back within eight points of the league leaders with a victory, but it seems unlikely that Manchester City will be dropping many more points from now until the end of the season even if they have lost two of their last three fixtures.
Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has proclaimed that he wants his side to win every match until the seasons closes. A strong finish in the league and lifting the Europa League trophy would be a good statement for The Reds to make for next season.
Since returning from his injury Paul Pogba has helped his side with many good performances and he will more than likely have an influence in this game, like he did in the reverse fixture, when he secured the three points for The Red Devils with a wonderful volley.
The match will be shown live on Sky Sports and Jonathan Moss will be in charge of his fourth game over United this season. Darren England will be manning VAR at Stockley Park.
This encounter brings two teams in completely opposite patches of form together for a clash. Sean Dyche’s side have won just two of their last 10 matches, while Solskjær’s Reds are aiming to win their fifth match in a row.
The Reds also have progressed into the semi-final of the Europa League as they beat Granada 4-0 over two legs. They have conceded just once in the competition so far.
In their last Premier League outing, United produced a stunning display against Tottenham Hotspur as they won the game 3-1. They will be looking to take this into the next game against a Burnley side that has been leaking goals on the road lately.
Sean Dyche’s side have conceded eight goals in their last three away matches – dropping four goals to Tottenham Hotspur and three against Southampton – which has left them loitering above the relegation zone.Embed from Getty Images
While United’s strong form has seen them all but secure Champions League qualification for next season, as they currently sit nine points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea.
The last time that Burnley travelled to Old Trafford they produced a shock result as they won 2-0 against The Reds with goals from Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez. However, you’d have to go back to 1962 to see The Clarets win back-to-back away matches against The Red Devils.
In the last four away matches at Old Trafford, Burnley have frustrated the hosts – they have three draws and a win as visitors against United.
In their last meeting, as expected, Burnley made things difficult for United. It was a wonder strike from Pogba which gave Solskjær’s men all three points. It is expected that the visitors will be defensively strong and it will take a strong United attacking performance to break down the infamous Burnley low-block.
After missing the Europa League match against Granada on Thursday due to suspension, all three of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and potentially Scott McTominay are set to start against Burnley, however the latter was not spotted with the squad last night.
Although, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly are both doubts, as the former is dealing with an ankle injury and the latter recently tested positive for Covid-19. Phil Jones and Anthony Martial are both still unavailable.
In the visitors camp, Dyche has multiple players who could miss out. Both Nick Pope and Dwight McNeil are both having injuries assessed, while Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady and Kevin Long will all miss the encounter.
Jay Rodriguez will return to the side after missing their last match against Newcastle to be at the birth of his daughter, he has fond memories at Old Trafford, scoring a beauty in Burnley’s 2-0 win in Manchester last campaign.
Ones to watch
Paul Pogba is in great form will be looking to continue that in this match. The Frenchman has two assists in his last two games, and he also scored in the reverse fixture with a wonderful volley which saw The Reds take all three points at Turf Moor.Embed from Getty Images
That goal also saw United top the table after the new year for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson won the league in 2013, however they now sit in second place, 11 points behind Manchester City – but a win could take them within eight points.
Edinson Cavani has also hit form with back-to-back Man of the Match awards against Spurs and Granada. The future of the striker is still yet to be confirmed, but it seems like he would be very much welcomed to extend his stay at Old Trafford for a further year.
For Burnley, Chris Wood will pose a threat, especially at set-pieces. The striker has seven goals in the Premier League and is the leading scorer for the club. It is also expected that, if fit, Pope will be vital for Dyche’s men. The goalkeeper has earned a place in the England set-up with his performances for his club over the last couple of years.
The low block test
In fine form, United will expect to take another three points from their opposition but it is against the kind of side that they have struggled against under Solskjær.
If they want to take the next step and challenge for major trophies next season, these will be the games which decide if they can do it or not.
Sean Dyche and his side are perhaps the best in the business when it comes to defending in a low-block, it will be a challenge for United but one that they should be able to overcome.