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After an emphatic victory at the Emirates in the FA Cup fourth round, Manchester United host Burnley in an attempt to get back into the top four and break Ancelotti and Pep’s record of winning their first six games in the Premier League with a seventh consecutive win on Tuesday night at 20:00 GMT. Burnley are looking for some kind of reaction after a humbling 5-0 loss to the blue side of Manchester and are wary that the red side could do similar damage to Burnley despite their decent run of late in the league of four games unbeaten (3W, 1D).
Who could play on Tuesday?
For Burnley, it seems likely that Tom Heaton will return to the lineup after Nick Pope returned from injury but let five Manchester City goals in with Joe Hart remaining on the bench. I feel for Joe Hart, his defenders were so shockingly poor early in the season and he got the stick for it despite making many great saves, then when the defenders sorted themselves out he was dropped! I hope for his sake he seeks a new club. Robbie Brady is likely not to feature either after suffering another injury (groin) against the champions elect. While Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton are doubts, Icelandic international Johann Berg Gudmundsson could return to the lineup after three weeks on the sidelines.
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Manchester United, like Burnley, will replace their second string goalkeeper of Sergio Romero with the best ‘keeper in the world in David de Gea who was rested as Heaton was, for the FA Cup fourth round. Phil Jones was a sub against Arsenal and while he has done reasonably well since Solskjaer has been appointed, I prefer Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof as the starting pair and Bailly’s physicality should help against the likes of Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood. Marcos Rojo remains unfit to play as does Marouane Fellaini who has rarely featured under Solskjaer even when fit. Chris Smalling is close to a return but with Lindelof doing so well currently, he has to fight for a sole place alongside the Swede against Bailly and Jones. Lukaku bagged two assists as a right winger/forward and Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring at the Emirates but both ought to return to the bench to keep both Martial and Rashford in the side and increase their tallies of ten and nine goals respectively (in all competitions). The midfield is almost certain to remain the same after flourishing under Solskjaer so far and not looking like stopping any time soon.
What would a win mean for United?
A win does not automatically seal a move up to the top four but puts pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham, who play Bournemouth (A) and Watford (H) respectively, as they must match the result the day after or face further pressure. Arsenal also play the same day as United but fifteen minutes earlier and Red Devils fans will be hoping Cardiff can remain resolute in their defending and get something from the game in what would be an emphatic result following recent events.
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What happened in the last few fixtures between these two clubs?
Burnley have not beaten United since 2009 and since Burnley returned to the Premier League in 2016/17, United have won all three away games with goals from Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial in 2017, the Frenchman scoring the sole goal in 2018 and a brace from Romelu Lukaku sealed the win earlier this season. United’s results at home against Burnley have not flattered them at all with a 0-0 draw in the early months of Jose Mourinho’s tenure exposing United’s lack of clinical finishing during that part of the season with Tom Heaton being the star of the show with a set of excellent saves to deny the home side. Last season fared no better with United conceding two early goals from Ashley Barnes and a stunning freekick from Stephan Defour however a brace from the in-form Jesse Lingard denied Burnley from their first away win against United since 1962. United will certainly be looking for better fortunes this time around.
United will play the way they have been for the last eight games and Burnley will try and hold back the tide and counter when possible. The confidence in every single United player is enough to fill the Pacific and I think, if they get an early goal they will cruise but if not, then it will only be a matter of time before they do score. Ole’s United team have scored first in every game they have played and after that point have never lost their winning position and tomorrow should be no different.
Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Young (c), Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Rashford