Manchester United will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they lock horns with relegation contenders Burnley at Old Trafford this midweek.
After the disappointment against Newcastle United earlier in the week, Manchester United will be hoping to bounce back strongly when they welcome relegation battlers Burnley to Old Trafford on Thursday night.
After having won their first two Premier League games under the tutelage of Ralf Rangnick, Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by 19th-placed Newcastle United on Monday, putting a major dent in their hopes of a top-four finish. Following the result, the Red Devils are left in seventh place, seven points shy of Arsenal in fourth, although they have two games in hand over the Gunners and need to take advantage of it, starting with a win on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Burnley will be in action for the first time after a two-week break since their goalless draw against West Ham United. The Clarets had their matches against Aston Villa, and Everton cancelled due to coronavirus issues in their opponents’ squads. Currently 18th in the table, Sean Dyche’s men have just 11 points from 15 matches (W1 D8 L6), two points shy of Watford in 17th place, but have two games in hand to make up the gap.
Ahead of what will be a crucial encounter for both Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on Thursday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 29, 2021
Victor Lindelof is ruled out for the home team after contracting coronavirus. Paul Pogba remains unavailable with an injury while Bruno Fernandes is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Newcastle United. Other than that, manager Ralf Rangnick has a full set of players available at his disposal.
Given the quick turnaround between the fixtures, Rangnick is expected to make a few tweaks to the team that underwhelmed on Monday against Newcastle. However, no change is expected between the sticks, with David de Gea, who was top-notch earlier in the week, set to continue.
The defensive line, however, could see multiple alterations. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles are in line to return to the XI in the full-back slots. Eric Bailly, who the club recalled after he had left to join Ivory Coast for the AFCON, is likely to start in place of Raphael Varane, who recently returned from injury. Harry Maguire should hold on to his place in the side.
Scott McTominay seemed to have picked up an injury against Newcastle but is expected to shake it off and feature against Burnley. However, he is likely to have a new partner in the form of Nemanja Matic, who will be replacing Fred after the Brazilian was hooked at half-time against the Magpies.
With Fernandes ruled out, it paves the way for Donny van de Beek to start as one of the two attacking midfielders, with Jadon Sancho likely to partner him on the night. Up top, both Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to be benched, with Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood in line for starts as the two centre-forwards in Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Matic; van de Beek, Sancho; Greenwood, Cavani
Burnley will be without the services of Connor Roberts and Ashley Barnes, who are still some way away from mounting a full recovery. Dale Stephens is back in training after recovering from coronavirus and could be in contention. However, summer signing Maxwel Cornet is a touch-and-go for this crucial clash for Sean Dyche’s side.
The visitors will set up in their usual 4-4-2 formation, with the focus being on defensive discipline and organisation. They will look to hurt Manchester United on the break and exploit their weakness against defending set-piece situations. Nick Pope is the undisputed starter between the sticks for Burnley, while Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Charlie Taylor form the four-person backline.
Ashley Westwood and Josh Brownhill will form the midfield pivot to provide added security to the backline. Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dwight McNeil will slot in out wide and act as the primary attacking outlets, with the onus to supply crosses to the strikers being on them.
Up top, Chris Wood is a certain starter for the Clarets. With Barnes unavailable, he could be paired up with Matej Vydra, while Jay Rodriguez would be an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Vydra, Wood
- Manchester United are unbeaten in four matches in all competitions under Ralf Rangnick, but they have scored only one goal in each game.
- Burnley’s only win in their 15 Premier League matches this season came against Brentford in late October. They have drawn seven of their previous ten games in the competition.
- Manchester United have kept just one clean sheet in their past 13 Premier League home matches. They have leaked 22 goals during this run.
- Burnley have gone three league games without scoring a goal. The Clarets have managed just three shots on target during this period.
- Manchester United have faced defeat in six league fixtures at home in 2021. It is their highest tally in a calendar year since 1989. The Red Devils last lost seven times in the league at Old Trafford in 1986.
Player to Watch
🗣 Cavani should start for Man Utd every week pic.twitter.com/jMPioWemqr
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) December 27, 2021
The 34-year-old has seen game-time become severely limited this season due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival, as well as his own fitness issues. It has led to speculations surrounding his future, with Barcelona seemingly interested in signing him up. Manchester United, however, have been urged not to let Edinson Cavani leave midway through the campaign, and he showed why in the draw against Newcastle United.
Coming on as a substitute, the Uruguayan international scored the equalising goal and looked the most likely to make things happen with his movement in the box and ability to sniff out opportunities. He has a lot left to offer and can be a valuable commodity for the Red Devils, with Anthony Martial set to depart and Marcus Rashford struggling. Likely to get a starting berth on Thursday, he will be keen to add to his tally for the season.
Manchester United 1-1 Burnley
Manchester United still same to be facing the organisational issues that have plagued them all season, and it might take a while before they adapt to Ralf Rangnick’s methods. While there is so much quality in their attacking unit, their recent lack of goals shows that they still lack cohesion to click.
And, coming up against a Burnley side who have proven to be a tough nut to crack will not make things easy for the Red Devils. The Clarets are playing after a fairly long break and will be recharged and refreshed. Even though they are a goal-shy team, their physical threat from set-pieces could pose problems for the home team. All things considered, The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a 1-1 draw.