Friday, 19 January 2018

Match preview: Burnley v United

United turn their attention to on-field matters as the Reds make the short 28-mile journey up the M6 to east Lancashire neighbours Burnley. At the end of a week which has seen us make a stunning swoop for Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez, United head to Turf Moor gunning for a fourth consecutive win of 2018, in Jose Mourinho's 99th match in the dugout. Clarets counterpart Sean Dyche will take charge of the hosts for the 100th time in the Premier League.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be involved as doubts continue over his Old Trafford future, with the Armenian set for his move to Arsene Wenger's side as part of the swap deal for Alexis. Daley Blind will miss out through a minor knock sustained in training, and Jose also confirmed that Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are still sidelined as they recover from injuries. Ashley Young is available again after his three-match suspension, but he faces competition to win back his place with the in-form Luke Shaw having started five of the last six matches. Michael Carrick, meanwhile, is edging closer to a return. Injury-hit Burnley are still without ex-Reds Tom Heaton and Robbie Brady, left-back Stephen Ward, forward Jonathan Walters and top scorer, record signing Chris Wood. Scott Arfield could return after a three-game absence with new addition Georges - Kevin N'koudou in line for his first start.

After they comfortably avoided relegation in their first season back in the Premier League last term, Burnley have gone from strength and strength and are punching far above their weight as the surprise package this time around. Despite the fact they boast the third best defensive record in the division, Burnley's early season momentum has been halted of late and the Clarets are without a win in seven. But it's testament to the superb work of Dyche and his players that they sit pretty in seventh place in the table with over half the season gone. The Turf Moor side briefly rose into the top four after a 1-0 win over Stoke in mid-December which was the last time they picked up a league win. This is the second time in less than a month that we've played Burnley having met at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day and the hosts have an impressive recent record against us. The Reds were frustrated and fell 2-0 down through Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour, but we showed good powers of recovery and rescued a point through substitute Jesse Lingard who scored both goals including a last-gasp leveller. The visitors proved that they will be dangerous opponents despite their recent winless run of form. 

Jose is expecting a tough challenge against our Lancashire neighbours, and said: "Burnley are doing very well, you look at the points and the table and they are stable, high in the competition and far from relegation. They play well within their style, whether you like or dislike it, they're good at what they do and will be very dangerous, difficult opponents. They have not had such a good run recently but we know to expect a tough match and Burnley will cause us problems."

The United manager also confirmed that the club are in talks with Chilean Sanchez, and said that there was no point to deny or hide the speculation surrounding the futures of both players. 

Form guide: Burnley L D D L L L United D D D W W W 
Match odds: Burnley 11/2 Draw 13/5 United 6/10
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

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