Manchester United head into what Louis van Gaal has labelled a ‘derby match’ with Burnley on the cards next up. Sean Dyche’s side hope to recreate the heroics of the 2009 team which defeated United 1-0 on their last visit to Turf Moor.
Shinji Kagawa is an addition to United’s injury list, following a concussion sustained in the midweek defeat to MK Dons whilst new signing Marcos Rojo still awaits the approval of his work permit application after sealing his move from Sporting Lisbon earlier this month.
Jonny Evans’ return to the first-team was the solitary plus van Gaal could take from his team’s elimination from the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. The Northern Irish international is expected to come straight back into United’s starting line-up against Burnley.
Burnley, like United, have endured a difficult start to the campaign losing both their opening matches to Chelsea and Swansea City. In fairness, however, the results do not tell the full story with the newly promoted outfit having impressed critics suitably with their performances in the two aforementioned matches.
Defensively they have impressed in parts against both Chelsea and Swansea, although the ease with which Chelsea’s attacking options carved through Burnley’s defence in a 20-minute spell before half-time will worry manager Sean Dyche ahead of tomorrow’s early kick-off, particularly with United’s new record signing expected to make his debut.
Angel Di Maria, the £59.7million man will start tomorrow as van Gaal looks to kick-start a major reconstruction of his team. The Man of the Match in last season’s Champions League final confessed to MUTV earlier this week that he believed he would continue to play in a left-sided role in the centre of midfield, leading many to believe Van Gaal may be close to dropping the much talked about 3-5-2 system.
It is unclear as yet when this change will occur, however, with van Gaal having preferred the 4-3-3 system throughout his managerial career the addition of di Maria is a clear move in that direction. United perhaps lack a strong holding midfielder to make that system work, but with very little time left in the transfer window it is an issue which in all likelihood will be addressed.
Sam Vokes is the only key absentee for Burnley as the forward continues his recuperation from a serious knee injury picked up last season. It leaves the manager numerous selection options as Burnley will more than likely stick to the 4-4-2 system used against Swansea.
One of United’s worries this season has been the defence. Whilst Tyler Blackett has impressed in his first run with the team, the injuries have really taken their toll on performances and both Swansea and Sunderland have benefitted thus far.
You do wonder if Burnley will have enough going forward to test United, with both Danny Ings and Lukas Jutkiewicz newcomers to the league.
The atmosphere at Turf Moor will be a factor tomorrow. These are the matches which fans of promoted teams look to first once the fixture list is announced. As van Gaal said in today’s press conference, “It will be a fantastic atmosphere, they’ll play with a lot of passion and long balls. We have to fight against that”.
Many would say Burnley are playing United at the most opportune time, but given United’s disappointing start to the season and the arrival of di Maria it could be a difficult afternoon for the home side.