Manchester United will intend to return to winning ways as they head up to Burnley and take on the Clarets at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.
United were inflicted with a shock elimination in the fourth round of the FA Cup against Middlesbrough on Friday night as they drew 1-1 and eventually lost on penalties 7-8. The Red Devils had plenty of opportunities to put the game to bed but it seemed their attacking players had forgotten how to put the ball in the back of the net.
United beat Burnley back in December – their last league game in 2021. With a comfortable 3-1 lead in the first half seeing them get the job done the last time around.
The Red Devils are fourth in the Premier League but have played a game more than sixth-placed Arsenal, two more than Tottenham Hotspur in seventh, and one point clear of fifth-placed West Ham United who has played one more game than United. They currently hold a two-point lead over both North London sides and a point ahead of the Hammers and as such, this is pretty much a must-win game for them.Embed from Getty Images
Whereas, Burnley sit bottom on 13 points, having won just once in the league this term and have wasted an opportunity to climb to 18th in the table after settling for a goalless draw against Watford. Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge of the Hornets and they kept a clean sheet for the first time in 30 Premier League matches – which is a sight Sean Dyche will like to see with his fixture list getting tougher with Burnley having to face the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, and Chelsea in the next weeks.
For United Jadon Sancho, and Bruno Fernandes are expected to overcome little issues that they picked up against Middlesbrough, while Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani will come back into the squad after their respective days off.
Fred and Alex Telles are also out of the game, have both tested positive for COVID-19. Victor Lindelof remains a doubt through illness even though he’s been spotted training, though, while Eric Bailly’s ankle problem will rule him out and Mason Greenwood’s ongoing club suspension will again be unavailable for selection on Tuesday night.
🗣 Rangnick on Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani: “They are both available and they’ll both be apart of the squad for the game against Burnley. Both are top professionals.”— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) February 7, 2022
Burnley will have Josh Brownhill back from suspension for Tuesday, and there is an expectation the midfielder will go straight back into the side at Turf Moor. The Clarets will definitely be missing Matej Vydra and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, while Ashley Barnes and Charlie Taylor could also be unavailable for selection.
Dyche is unlikely to make many changes from the side that started the goalless draw with Watford, but Jay Rodriguez could be back to partner Weghorst upfront, with Maxwel Cornet moving out wide.
Ones to watch
It’s not easy to pick out a player in red to pay attention to for good reasons after Manchester United’s season but Jadon Sancho after his promising performance on Friday night and was the heart of all the good chances United created – victim of his teammate’s poor finishing. But he seems to be getting into his mid-season groove. The South Londoner is more than likely to retain his spot for Tuesday and if the Red Devils are to break down this robust and compact Burnley block, Sancho will be important to that.Embed from Getty Images
For Burnley, it’s hard to look past Maxwel Cornet. The Ivorian has been Burnley’s key man all season and after coming back from his African Cup of Nations exploits with the Côte d’Ivoire he will be looking to carry on his excellent form for the Clarets.
United have struggled with counter-attacking sides in the past, now even though Burnley aren’t the most threatening side on the break, Cornet will definitely be one to watch out for with his speed and directness key to Burnley’s transition.
Predicted line-up (4-3-3)
David de Gea;
Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba;
Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford
Champions League Qualification is the aim
After been knocked out of both domestic cup competitions, it only leaves the Premier League and Champions League for the Red Devils to compete for. The latter is very unlikely in terms of winning but not impossible and the aim in the league is to at least secure qualification for Europe’s elite competition next season.
A win on Tuesday will go a long way in succeeding that goal. And with a tough conjunction of fixtures to come next month, its important that United win the games they are clear favourites to win.
Obviously for a club the size and stature of Manchester United, top 4 wont satisfy the fans for the season but if United are to get back on track for a better long term future – its crucial that they qualify for the Champions League.