Ralf Rangnick’s Reds return to Old Trafford to face Burnley and will be looking to make a statement after disappointing performances against Norwich and Newcastle.
Last time out Manchester United looked sloppy and disjointed against a Newcastle side that have been struggling for form under new manager Eddie Howe. United lacked intensity and constant errors were made by individuals leading to cheap turnovers in possession.
Looking toward the next game United have a great chance to bounce back against a Burnley side that will be lacking match sharpness after having three games postponed due to outbreaks of Covid-19.
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Manchester United have three wins and two draws from their last five games in all competitions including the 3-2 victory over Arsenal while Michael Carrick was still the interim manager.
While Ralf Rangnick is unbeaten as Manchester United manager his side have failed to recreate the brilliant opening 30 minutes fans were encouraged by against Crystal Palace that led to a solid 1-0 victory.
In the Champions League against Young Boys, a match that was essentially a dead rubber as United had already claimed top spot in the group, we saw a heavily rotated team allowing younger players to get some game time. The match ended 1-1 and featured some bright performances from the youngsters.
Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road doesn’t tell the full story as The Reds lacked control for most of the game but a penalty dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo and heroics by David De Gea were enough to secure the three points.
The most recent showing against Newcastle where a point was rescued by Edinson Cavani leaves United in 7th with two games in hand on all the teams above them bar Tottenham Hotspur.Embed from Getty Images
Burnley lie in 18th and have not played since the 12th December where they drew 0-0 with West Ham. The Clarets are without a win in their last five games, drawing four and losing one. Although they currently sit in the relegation zone they have games in hand on all the surrounding teams, and so will be looking to propel themselves up the table.
The team has recovered from the Covid-19 outbreak at Carrington and Ralf Rangnick almost has the full squad at his disposal.
Victor Lindelöf was unavailable for the trip to St James’ Park earlier this week after testing positive for Covid-19 and will also be ruled out for the game against Burnley.
Paul Pogba is still side-lined after picking up a thigh injury earlier in the year, he is judged to still be a few weeks away from joining training sessions again. Bruno Fernandes will also be unavailable for selection as he serves a one match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card in the Premier League this season on Tyneside.
Eric Bailly has flown back from Ivory Coast and will be available for Manchester United’s matchday squad selection.
For Burnley, Sean Dyche has said their top scorer Maxwel Cornet has an ‘outside chance’ of featuring after dealing with thigh problems. Ashley Barnes is still working his way back to full fitness and Connor Roberts is unavailable still after feeling the effects of a ‘nasty infection’.
Ones to Watch
Two players you should definitely keep your eye on are Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani. Both players were Rangnick’s choices off the bench to change the game against Newcastle at half time and they could be set to start considering the performances of United’s other attacking players.Embed from Getty Images
Bruno Fernandes’ suspension leaves one of the number 10 spots open in Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 and Sancho would be a perfect fit, bringing his own style of creativity to the side. The summer signing has been finding his feet recently and performances are starting to improve, he offers something different to any of United’s attackers and could be key when trying to break down Burnley’s low block.
Ralf Rangnick had considered starting Cavani for the Newcastle game but the Uruguayan told him that he wasn’t comfortable starting. That being said when he came on at St James’ Park he was United’s best player and salvaged a point for the team. Cavani also offers something different to all of United’s striking options and his movement off the ball could help disrupt Burnley’s compact defensive structure.
Predicted Line-up (4-2-2-2)
David De Gea;
Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Scott McTominay, Fred;
Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho;
Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani
Time to Make a Statement
The stage is set, Manchester United are back at Old Trafford after two less than desirable performances on the road, against an opponent that they should be beating comfortably on paper at least. Amidst of all the rumours around squad morale the team need to put on a strong and cohesive performance in order to start building momentum.
Ralf Rangnick has spoken about how the team has looked good in the few training sessions they have had since the players have come back and hopefully that can translate to performances on the pitch similar to the first half against Crystal Palace.
Manchester United will be hoping to end 2021 with a win but also set the tone for the new year where they have a run of favourable fixtures leading up to their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid. A win here could see United start picking up steam as we head into the second half of the season.