United were 11 points adrift of the top four when Jose Mourinho was sacked a week before Christmas.
a victory against Burnley will take a resurgent United level on points
with fourth-placed Chelsea, albeit maybe for only 24 hours as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims for a slice of Old Trafford history.
No United manager has even won his first seven league games in charge of the club but Ole will achieve that feat with victory over struggling but improving Lancashire rivals Burnley.
Regardless what occurs in this next round of matches, Champions League
qualification through the league is now a distinct possibility under Solskjaer, who continues to enhance his claims to take charge permanently. The obdurate Clarets have proved a tough nut to crack in recent seasons having drawn on their last two visits to Old Trafford. Only Jesse Lingard's 91st minute leveller denied them a famous win in last term's corresponding tie. The reverse fixture at Turf Moor earlier this campaign ended 2-0 in our favour with a brace from Romelu Lukaku.
Ole said: "What it is about now is to put the club and to put the team in a
good position at the end of the season - how do we look like, what do we
look like next season?
"With or without me, it doesn't really
matter because I'm here now as part of that, to prepare the team for
next season. But, of course, that means doing well now.
" We can only do our own job, keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep
pressing all of the right buttons. We’re going to lose a few games,
which happens in football, but at this moment in time we’re winning a
few as well. Our aim is to try and do even better, to try and push the
"I go into every single game as a Man United manager thinking we can win this game."
The boss looks to have a selection headache -
albeit one in the best manner possible - as he looks to take the team to
a ninth win from as many games in all competitions since he took
Chris Smalling is back in contention for United having
recovered from a foot problem, but Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini
remain sidelined. David de Gea is set to return after he sat out the Cup
win at Arsenal.
There are a number of familiar faces
among the 16th-placed visitors alumni. Ex Red Robbie Brady is doubtful for
Burnley after being forced off against Manchester City with a groin
Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Phil Bardsley - another on United's books as a youngster - face late fitness tests ahead of Tuesday's match.
The Clarets made seven changes for Saturday's FA Cup defeat and will recall a number of key of players to the starting line-up.
Tom Heaton, also a former member of our Academy, looks favourite to get
the nod in goal, although Nick Pope played at the Etihad Stadium and Joe
Hart is another option. Matt Lowton and Aaron Lennon appear unlikely to
be involved. Sean Dyche's men currently sit fifth-from-bottom in the table on 22 points, as one of four clubs looking nervously over their shoulders amid a congested five-way scrap to avoid the final relegation spot. Things have improved for the Turf Moor team of late after a four match unbeaten league run lifted them out of that dreaded drop zone and into 16th.
Form guide: Man Utd W W W W W W Burnley W W W W D L
Match odds: Man Utd 7/2 Draw 5/1 Burnley 12/1
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Form guide: Man Utd W W W W W W Burnley