Burnley primed to beat United
Burnley and Manchester United have both started the season poorly, but it's Louis van Gaal's men who seem more vulnerable going into this weekend's fixture.
The Clarets are without a point after two Premier League games while United have a draw under their belts, but Van Gaal's team lost 4-0 to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup midweek and the club appear to still be on the slide.
Signing Angel Di Maria for a British-record transfer fee will only paper over the cracks in the United side, and a team without any quality central defenders or central midfielders is always going to struggle. It is also unclear where Di Maria will fit into Van Gaal's preferred 3-5-2, and in that context, spending 59.7 million pounds on him looks a very questionable decision indeed.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche rotated his team for Burnley's 1-0 cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, and none of the squad players he used grasped their chance to make a positive impression. Dyche is therefore likely to revert to the same starting lineup he has used in both league fixtures so far, although left back Ben Mee is vulnerable after a poor start to the season, and Stephen Ward could come into the side at his expense.
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Burnley also have fitness concerns over central midfielders Dean Marney and David Jones, and in the absence of any specialist cover for that position within the squad, Scott Arfield, Matt Taylor or Steven Reid may need to fill in.
United look like they can be rattled by a team pressing them hard, and this was a major factor of Burnley's play last season. Strikers Danny Ings and Lukas Jutkiewicz will have to lead the press from the front to force an inexperienced United defence into mistakes. At the other end of the pitch, an attack featuring stars such as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata continues to lack cohesion, and the partnership between Rooney and Van Persie in particular has failed to jell. However, Mata's runs from deep could cause problems for the Burnley back line, and he showed his ability to drift into dangerous areas with a goal at Sunderland last weekend.
Dyche will be hoping for more from his attack as Burnley have scored just one goal in their first three matches this season. The partnership between Ings and Jutkiewicz has promise and both were close to scoring at Swansea last weekend, but the longer their drought goes on, the more concerned supporters will become about their ability to score the goals to keep the team up. A United defence that has been extremely unconvincing this season appears to present a perfect opportunity for Ings and Jutkiewicz to get off the mark, and United seem to be there for the taking.
Off the field, Burnley supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated by the club's struggles in the transfer market. The Clarets have been linked to Derby County's Richard Keogh and Southampton's Jos Hooiveld in the last few days as efforts to bring in West Brom's Craig Dawson appear to have failed. Burnley also seem to have missed out on Wigan midfielder James McArthur, and his name is added to the list of top targets the Clarets have failed to sign: Dawson, Troy Deeney, Craig Bryson, Henri Lansbury -- that list is getting long.
Burnley beat Manchester United 1-0 in their last Premier League encounter at Turf Moor five years ago, and Clarets supporters will be hoping for a similar shock result this weekend. In fact, history is on Burnley's side in this fixture, as they have won over half of their games against United at Turf Moor. United haven't won at Burnley in the league for nearly 40 years, although the two clubs have occupied the same division for just one season during that period.
Turf Moor will be packed again this weekend, and with neither side wanting to go into the two-week international break without a win to their names, the pressure is on them both.