After some eventful midweek league cup football, the Premier League resumes at Old Trafford for Manchester United as they will host newly promoted Burnley on Saturday.
The home side come off the back of a massive result in the league cup, a 1-0 derby win against Manchester City, thanks to Spaniard Juan Mata, which has seen them through to the quarter-finals of the competition which will played in late November. The result, and more so the strong performance in the second half of the game, will be important for their morale which took a real hit after the devastating defeat at Stamford Bridge. Their league form has been poor for a few weeks now with only one win in the last six league encounters but with a few relatively favourable fixtures ahead, it will interesting to see if they can put a string of wins together at last.
Burnley, on the other hand, make a short trip to Old Trafford following an impressive 2-1 win against Everton at Turf Moor. With ten points on board now, they sit in 14th position on the league table, with two wins in the last five games. Having well rested in midweek unlike United, Sean Dyche will fancy his chances of causing an upset on Saturday but their poor record on road so far will have to be overcome and anything but an absolutely perfect display from the visitors will be enough to get the result they’d want come Saturday.
Manchester United have a few injury problems for some of the usual starters in their side. Chris Smalling sat out of the derby game owing to foot injury he suffered in training but Anthony Martial is expected to feature in the squad after missing out on the midweek clash against City. Captain Wayne Rooney is still sidelined but all eyes will be on whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan would make the final 18-man squad in the weekend after the Armenian was left out on Wednesday.
Sean Dyche will be boosted by the return of George Boyd for Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford but midfield colleague Steven Defour is still ‘touch and go’ and would need a late fitness test according to the boss. Dyche also confirmed that defender Stephen Ward has shaken off a knock that forced him off for the final few minutes of the win against Everton.
- Man United are unbeaten in their last 12 home league fixtures against Burnley, last losing to them at Old Trafford in September 1962.
- Burnley have won 3 of their opening 9 games this season after winning none of their opening ten games the last time they were promoted to the Premier League.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gone five league games without scoring for the first time since September 2010.
- Away from home, Burnley have only had three shots on target in three games.
Ander Herrera – Manchester United
One of the positives under Jose Mourinho so far has been the revival of Ander Herrera and his renewed importance to the success of Manchester United. The Spaniard never had a consistent run of games under Louis van Gaal due to which he often badly suffered whenever he was thrown in all of a sudden. Also the freedom that Mourinho has given Herrera to move about the pitch and dictate tempo as well as contribute to pressing the opposition, has only done him a world of good, which has seen him quickly rise from an outside starter in the last two years to an integral part of the team. He will be the key man on Saturday for the home side with Manchester United expected to dominate possession.
Michael Keane – Burnley
Michael Keane will make a return to the club he supported as a kid on Saturday and as an ex-Manchester United academy graduate this game has a special significance to him more than his teammates. The centre-back has gained a lot of experience playing for a compact and defensively organised Burnley side for a couple of seasons now and has established himself has one of the more important players for the Clarets. His performances for the club have been so good that he got his England call up under interim manager Gareth Southgate. Keane’s ability to sniff danger and win duels in the air will be very crucial against a very physical Manchester United on Saturday.
This could end up being a low scoring game as Burnley are expected set up with two well drilled banks of four behind the ball and Man United are not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment either. But I do expect them to shade this.
Manchester United 1-0 Burnley