Managerial change seems to have made no difference at Manchester United, who are still struggling to find their identity as a team and just about edged points in their first three games under interim boss Ralf Rangnick. A humiliating 1-1 draw at the St. James Park to Newcastle United, one that easily could’ve finished in a win for the hosts, ended up frustrating the Red Devils.
Journalist Chris Wheeler has been reporting that the club are finding it very difficult to adapt to Rangnick’s intense training session, and the 4-2-2-2 system isn’t really being as effective as some would’ve expected. The likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have been extremely poor in providing the service to Cristiano Ronaldo, making it furthermore difficult for the side to get results.
But there are some reports suggesting that the German is looking to switch towards a back-three to implement the 3-4-1-2 system in the coming weeks. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer implemented it temporarily for the club, but it did not prove to be very successful as they had lost total control of possession.
They will be hosting Burnley at the Old Trafford next up in their last fixture of 2021, a team that has troubled the Red Devils plenty of times at this venue. In their last four visits, they scored seven goals, losing just one game at Old Trafford. They could’ve had more victories if not for spilling out a 2-0 lead in the final few minutes on two occasions.
United broke the Burnley duck last season when a Mason Greenwood brace helped the hosts defeat them 3-1. Burnley are currently in the relegation zone, with just one win in 15 fixtures, but they have played two games less than 17th-placed Watford, who are just two points ahead. Sean Dyche’s primary concern will be to get them out of the relegation zone and if history says anything, teams that walk into Old Trafford on the front foot can trouble the hosts.
Burnley’s last game of football came 18 days ago against West Ham at the Turf Moor, which finished in a goalless draw. A flurry of COVID cases denied them an opportunity to play football, and will be desperate to get back on winning ways despite having some major restrictions with the team selection.
A player heavily linked with a move away from the club, Edinson Cavani appeared against Newcastle United after a long stay away due to an injury. He scored the equalizer and looked like a lively presence throughout the game. Cavani scored in the 93rd minute last time against Burnley to make it 3-1 for United at the same venue, and the manager will be keen on giving him a start ahead of Marcus Rashford.
The last time both Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo started together, the side registered a comprehensive 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Despite not getting the best of service, he has been their top goal-scorer this season, scoring six times in the Champions League and seven times in the Premier League. The club needs their talismanic presence to show up to not lose further ground in the top four race.
After six years with Lyon and being linked with a move to Premier League multiple times, Maxwel Cornet finally chose Burnley as his destination to arrive in England, and scored five times already this season. His goals have been crucial in helping Burnley rescue some points, and he scored in their only win of the tournament against Brentford, and most recently, he got on the scoresheet in a frantic 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace.
It is quite unfortunate that Donny van de Beek is struggling to find opportunities even after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left the club and is apparently seeking a move away from United in January. However, Bruno Fernandes’ suspension will give him a start against Burnley, perhaps a fantastic opportunity for the 24-year-old to prove his worth.
Chris Wood has had a good history against Manchester United, scoring some pivotal goals in their amazing run at the Old Trafford. The New Zealand striker has scored three times this season in the league and always gets into good goal-scoring positions. The Red Devils will be wary of the threat he poses during set pieces and will not want to take him for granted.
Burnley are coming into this game after a lot of players recovered from COVID and might look rusty. The case was similar with United when they played against the Magpies, and perhaps this won’t be the most entertaining of fixtures.
However, Manchester United have the attacking firepower to make a difference, and with the likes of Cavani, Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho all in contention to start, there is a possibility they could score two or three times and keep a clean sheet.
Our prediction is for Manchester United to win 2-0