Burnley vs Man United pre-match analysis: Hosts looking to capitalise on Utd injury concerns

Burnley vs Man United pre-match analysis: Hosts looking to capitalise on Utd injury concerns

The Clarets earned a goalless draw at Old Trafford and will fancy their chances with another tight defensive display on Sunday afternoon.

Chris Lincoln

Rarely will Burnley get a better chance to inflict a defeat on José Mourinho's Manchester United. With the Red Devils missing several key players and coming into the match on the back of a tiring Europa League game that went to extra-time on Thursday, Sean Dyche will be looking to another good performance at Turf Moor as Burnley seek to earn their first top flight victory against United since their Premier League debut.

Drop deep and close down space with two banks of four

United will undoubtedly spend the majority of the game with the ball at their feet. Mourinho's side dominated possession with 72% of the ball in the reverse fixture six months ago and have one of the highest average possession rates in the Premier League. Yet their targets are limited in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimović.

The Swede has chipped in with 17 Premier League goals this season, almost three times as many as his closest rival Juan Mata who is also out through injury. It means United will be without a powerful aerial threat who causes problems with his strength and ability on the ball.

Mourinho is likely to field Europa League hero Marcus Rashford as his lone striker. The England international is blessed with pace and could be supported by Anthony Martial from the left-wing. However, goals have been hard to come by for the pair with Rashford only netting five in the top flight.

The nature of Rashford and Martial's play is likely to play to the strengths of Burnley's probable tactic. In their goalless draw at Old Trafford in October, the Clarets sat deep with two banks of four soaking up pressure. They will most likely do the same again as to not allow Rashford space in behind with the passing ability of Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick matching his movement.

Has Rashford got the firepower to fill Ibrahimovic void? (photo: Getty Images)
Has Rashford got the firepower to fill Ibrahimovic void? (photo: Getty Images)

Finishing prowess will be critical

A concern for United on Thursday was their finishing, or lack of it. This will have to improve with one of the best goalkeepers in the league between the sticks for Burnley. Tom Heaton saved eleven shots in the reverse fixture and will be hoping to add another clean sheet against his former Club.

United have scored at least three goals in their last three away games and gone on to win after taking a lead before half-time in five of the last seven. However, if a tight Burnley defensive unit can keep United at bay, fatigue from their Thursday night exploits may play a part.

This is where Burnley's own finishing ability will come into question. They have scored just twice in their last four games but will get the odd opportunity against a United defence plagued by injury. Daley Blind is likely to partner Eric Bailly at the heart of the back four but looked nervy when filling after replacing the injured Marcos Rojo against Anderlecht. Whether Burnley have the capabilities to pounce on any chances and subject United to their first defeat for 22 games remains to be seen. Only Andre Gray and Sam Vokes have scored more than five Premier League goals this season.