As the final game before the first international break, Manchester United make a short trip to Burnley in Lancashire to prevent a third loss in the first four games – for the first time since 1987.
Manchester United are in the middle of an actual crisis – yet not serious enough to press the panic button yet. Unlike the defeat against Brighton, United’s performance in the first half against Tottenham Hotspur despite the nature of the result would have given Mourinho some belief going into this fixture against Burnley – and the forthcoming games – about 8 of the next 10, winnable on paper.
After the Champions League draw that saw them land in a group with Italian Champions Juventus and a resurgent Valencia, Mourinho and the Red Devils have the perfect opportunity to get their season back on track before a much-needed respite from all the attention they seem to be attracting at the moment.
Burnley too, have struggled in the opening games of the season – drawing 0-0 to Southampton while losing the other two to Fulham and Watford. Sean Dyche’s impressive campaign last season earned them the right to play in the qualification for the Europa League group stages but disappointment followed as the Clarets crashed out in midweek against Greek side Olympiakos. Dyche’s Burnley have made Turf Moor a tough place for visitors regardless of the opposition, in the last two years and they will look to take advantage of a United side that is still reeling from a frustrating pre-season.
Eric Bailly may return to the Manchester United squad following Phil Jones’ injury during Monday’s defeat to Spurs, while Alexis Sanchez may be fit enough for a start.
Dyche made seven changes to his starting line-up for the European tie and Chris Wood, Jack Cork, James Tarkowski and Joe Hart are among the players poised to come back in. Ben Gibson is available again after being suspended for the European match.
- Burnley are occupying the bottom three of the Premier League for the first time since August 2016 – however, the Clarets have won three of their last four Premier League matches when starting the day in the relegation zone.
- Since Jose Mourinho took charge of Manchester United, he has won all 11 of his away Premier League matches against Englishmen, with two of those victories coming against Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
- Burnley are still yet to make a change to their starting XI in the Premier League this season, while Man Utd have made more changes than any other side (9).
Joe Hart – Burnley
With former Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart now, Burnley have an experienced head between the sticks, who has played at the highest level for a significant portion of his career.
Having lost some key players in defence, such as Trippier and Michael Keane – Burnley will look for Hart’s leadership and command at the back to help organise themselves against a side as potent going forward as Manchester United.
Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United
The Belgian has, in a way, mirrored Manchester United’s problems on the pitch – in that he has not been sharp enough in key moments so far after a long and arduous World Cup with little downtime to unwind. His open goal miss against Tottenham Hotspur came at the worst time possible when the Red Devils were completely on top of their opponents. However, United and in particular, the 25-year old, cannot afford to miss any more gilt-edged chances if the Red Devils were to kick on from here.
Burnley will put up a good fight – but not enough to give Manchester United a bloody nose.
Burnley 1-2 Manchester United