The games are coming thick and fast for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his young Manchester United side as the festive period of fixtures ramps up. The Reds are half way into a stretch of four games in the space of ten days, and the always tricky Burnley side await next at Turf Moor on Saturday.
United have seemingly entered another slippery patch in the Premier League as of late following the two outstanding victories over Tottenham and Manchester City earlier this month. The Reds dropped five points in their last two fixtures with a loss to bottom of the league Watford and a stalemate draw against Everton.
It was massive for the Reds to respond on Boxing Day against Newcastle in front of home fans in the last game of the decade at Old Trafford. Solskjaer’s men really can’t afford to drop any more points in the chase for top four, and with some of the direct opposition having dropped some points this week again, United finally pounced on the opportunity to move back into contention.
United were looking vigorous and poised after going 1-0 down early on Thursday, and they were finally able to break the streak of not winning games after going behind. The attack was rampant and the pressing was once again relentless, as United forced the visitors to make mistake after mistake in a 4-1 victory.
The Reds eventually cruised home with the three points and were able to put some more minutes into the tank of Paul Pogba in his second game after coming back from an ankle injury. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were also subbed off quite early into the second half, giving them extra time to start their recovery ahead of the Burnley game in less than two days time.
Burnley are always a tricky side to play against, particularly away, but United have enjoyed the short trips north in recent years. The Reds have won each of their last three league fixtures at Turf Moor and they will be feeling confident in their search to add another much needed victory to bolster their top four hunt on Saturday night.
Martial could very well be a key player for United in this one, having scored the last two times these two teams played each other at Burnley. Martial seems to always pick up the intensity and get amongst the goals when the year is about to turn, and the brace against Newcastle will have also filled the Frenchman with extra confidence that could end up being crucial for the Reds in the coming games.
Burnley currently sit 12th in the league, four points behind United in 7th, and are coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Everton on Boxing Day. The Clarets won their previous two prior to the Everton fixture, and they will certainly be looking to get back on track on Saturday. And what better way to do it than to put more misery on Manchester United?
The games after Boxing Day, which usually take place a little less than 48 hours later, are rarely of the highest quality. Both sets of players are understandably not at a 100 percent fitness and ability wise, and the games often come down to fine margins and who really wants it more. With that being said, the fact that United were able to rest players having all but wrapped up their game by half-time against Newcastle could play into their advantage on Saturday against a Burnley side who was forced to work hard for the duration of their loss at Everton.
Having finally gotten Paul Pogba back, United have now been hit with an all new injury problem as Scott McTominay has reportedly damaged ligaments in his knee after a clash in the Newcastle game. The length of the Scots absence is yet to be determined, but the loss of United’s midfield general could be huge with some big games coming up in the next few weeks. Other than that, Solskjaer will have almost all of his players available for selection with the exceptions of Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Marcos Rojo. For the hosts, only Ben Gibson will be sidelined for this one with a groin problem. Jeff Hendrick will be available again following suspension as Sean Dyche plots a plan to upset the Reds on their home turf.