Old Trafford is the setting this afternoon as Manchester United play host to Burnley with Jose Mourinho’s men needing to not only bounce back after that 4-0 drubbing to Chelsea last weekend but to also try and close that gap to the Top 5 which is in danger of getting bigger should United not pick up all three points this afternoon.
It was an embarrassing return to Stamford Bridge for Mourinho as his side went behind within just 30 seconds and the afternoon didn’t get any better as they shipped three more goals in a defeat which saw United consigned to 7th in the Premier League table.
It’s fair to say that’s not the kind of position that the United hierarchy had in mind when they hired ‘The Special One’ and Mourinho has already given his cross town rivals Manchester City a 6 point head start in terms of the title race, there is definitely some hard work that needs to be done over the next few weeks to address that issue.
There was a modicum of pride restored on Wednesday when United got one over their nearest rivals in the EFL Cup with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Juan Mata’s goal was the difference against a much changed City side, so although a welcome win for United they can’t really consider it a groundbreaking one.
Had United not been thumped in West London on Sunday you would imagine that Mouinho would have rested players as well but I don’t think he could risk losing another game especially to the ‘noisy neighbours’ so he had no real choice but to play a full strength lineup.
You would imagine it will be a very similar lineup from Wednesday that will face the visit of Sean Dyche’s men this afternoon. The Clarets make the short trip to Manchester full of confidence after their home win to Everton last Saturday and they will look to claim another scalp this afternoon.
Not many gave them a chance last Saturday but they added victory against Everton to their win against Liverpool to already claim a Merseyside double this season. It was Scott Arfield’s late winner which gave Burnley all three points and that win now sees them sit 14th in the table.
Burnley have picked up all their points at home so getting even a point at Old Trafford could be a big ask but bad runs have to end somewhere and this United team is still low on confidence. But United could also be a wounded animal after the embarrassment of last Sunday and you really can’t see anything other than a home win this afternoon.
If United are to win then they could do with a goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he hasn’t scored in the Premier League since the Manchester derby on September 10th. That’s now a run of 5 league games without a goal, Burnley be warned.
That said I think from a quality point of view then you have to make United easy favourites for this one, there will be no faulting Burnley’s workrate and determination but that can only get you so far when you go up against the home sides. It’s a return to winning ways for United this afternoon.
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