Burnley away at Turf Moor is never an easy match. It simply doesn’t matter the circumstances. Burnley could be as awful as they can be, yet you can almost certainly vouch for them to show up and fight for every single thing in a match. This match was supposed to take place on the first game week of the season. But due to United going further in the Europa league, it was postponed. A win here gives United new impetuous going into the tie against Liverpool, as it would shoot them right up to the top of the table, 3 points clear off Liverpool. And win they did, a gutsy 1-0 victory that will raise the mood in the dressing room for sure.
After the disappointment of the Manchester derby, United needed this win. With a match against Liverpool just around the corner, this win was vital. United were never going to smash Burnley by a goal fest. And that probably wouldn’t have the effect this gutsy win would’ve. Any time you come out as winners against a very physical side after tough night, the squad become more together. And team spirit is something that Manchester United can be proud of right now.
First Half Analysis
The first half from United was probably the way Burnley would’ve wanted them to play against them. United struggled to break through the ever so rigid 4-4-2 of Burnley, which is a problem for many a teams. Burnley defended deep and compact and it caused the red devils to be hasty in possession. Defensively United had no real problems dealing with Burnley. But United struggled to break through lines for the majority of the first half.
The match then turned a bit chaotic after some contentious VAR decisions. The first one was obviously the Shaw and Cavani incident in and around the 30 minute mark. Shaw won the ball fairly but his follow through made contact with Gudmondsen. Referee at the time deemed it not a foul and allowed play to continue. United countered and Cavani was brought down through on goal by Brady. And because it was in same phase, referee brought the match back to book Shaw for a foul. But the biggest talking point of the match was surely Maguire’s disallowed goal. Maguire is a tall and strong player. He rose above Pieters and scored a towering header, however for some inexplicable reason, the goal was disallowed. And these incidents only fueled United’s desire to win even more.
Second Half Analysis
In the 2nd half, United made a slight tactical tweak and Pogba was pushed further forward. The red devils also showed much more composure than they did in the 1st half. The composure on the ball really helped United break through this stubborn and rigid Burnley defense. Pogba pushing up higher up the pitch also meant the front 4 could also move forward further. All these factors came into play and suddenly it was a game of survival and holding onto dear life for Burnley.
It was quite fitting that the winning goal would come from Paul Pogba, who was brilliant throughout the game. Rashford broke down the right, then waited patiently for Pogba to arrive before crossing it in. And Pogba struck a sweet volley to score. True there was a hint of fortune as it took a slight deflection, but it was nothing less than what United deserved. The red devils had several other chances to score. But the execution kept the score down to 1-0 only.
A win is a win. But United needed this win. Not only does it give the team a positive mindset going into the Liverpool tie, it also clears up the extra match United had to play at some point this season. United are in the Europa League. So, it helps that there are no clogged fixtures towards the end of the season. The season is unpredictable, for so many different reasons. Covid-19 is still a factor and matches are still getting postponed. But for the time being, Manchester United are top of the table, all by themselves.
However, more than 50% of the season is still to be played. And that is a lot of games. United can not take their foot of the pedals if they want to be anywhere near the top of the table come May. It will not be easy. But nothing in the Premier League comes easy. United will have to dig deep to sustain this level of consistency and one can only hope for that to happen.