STAR PREVIEW: Man U v Burnley

“We lost to Liverpool. A team that you all say are fantastic and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball. For me, that’s strides forward.” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assessment of Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool was a positive one, and all the signs point to his side having an easier time of things against Burnley tonight.

There’s no disrespect intended to Sean Dyche’s men in that statement, but that victory – in which the score could easily have been 4 or 5-0 rather than 1-0 before Mo Salah’s last minute goal – was Liverpool’s 53rd game unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League and the 21st game of 22 they’d won this season.

United were outclassed there, although there were tiny bright spots, including a second half rally when they manufactured chances for Andreas Pereira (nearly tapped into an open goal in the first half) and Anthony Martial (shot over the top from an inviting position after the break with a wild effort), and Fred performed manfully in the game.

Solskjaer badly missed Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba to provide the the best support to Fred in midfield but the absence of Marcus Rashford due to stress fractures in his back, apparently aggravated by a challenge he suffered playing against Wolves in an FA Cup replay, threatens to derail United’s season.

Rashford, who has scored 24 goals this season, was not well replaced by Anthony Martial at Anfield, and the Frenchman has huge boots to fill – Rashford has also has scored more opening goals this season (6) than anyone else in the league, and only Mohamed Salah has scored more winners than him this season.

Man Utd v Burnley
Premier League
20:15 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport Ultimate

(Maximum 10 matches, Since 2010)
DEC 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
JAN 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-2 Burnley
SEP 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
JAN 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 0-1 Manchester United
DEC 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-2 Burnley
APR 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
OCT 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 0-0 Burnley
FEB 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 3-1 Burnley
AUG 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 0-0 Manchester United
JAN 2010 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 3-0 Burnley
AUG 2009 PREMIER LEAGUE Burnley 1-0 Manchester United

Burnley stopped a dire run of form with a hard fought victory over Leicester at Turf Moor on Sunday, when Chris Wood’s snatched equaliser, Nick Pope’s penalty save, and Ashley Woodgate’s incredible strike all earned them a crucial 2-1 success.

That was a reminder of the qualities of Sean Dyche’s side – who had lost their last four – and they should not be dismissed out of hand, but it’s less than a month since United were deserved 2-0 winners at Turf Moor and the Clarets’ problem frankly isn’t how they’re playing at home.

Burnley are a perfectly respectable ninth in the home table of the Premier League but they are fifth from bottom in the away table with just nine points on the road and that spells trouble coming to Old Trafford, where United sit fourth in the virtual home table.

There’s no particular interest in backing United with a big handicap, but they should be able to create more chances than they did against Liverpool and it’s also interesting to note that Anthony Martial – who, to give him his due, has 11 goals this season – did look very good at Old Trafford when scoring a brace against Newcastle here, and when scoring in the 4-0 win against Norwich.

If the Frenchman is capable of giving those performances on a regular basis (not forgetting his awesome show in the Manchester Derby) then with the support of Dan James, he can go some way to filling the shoes left by Marcus Rashford over the next couple of months.

United have sometimes struggled against non-elite opposition but their home record is strong and the 13/10 on them scoring in both halves makes a certain amount of appeal. United have won 6 home games this season and in five of those sixth they’ve found the net in both halves, whilst they also scored either side of the break in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.

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