Old Trafford, Manchester
Premier League 2016/17
Saturday 29th October 2016 – KO 15:00
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistant Referees: Jake Collin and Richard West
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend
Manchester United face Burnley at Old Trafford in the Premier League, the first traditional 3pm kick off of the season so far. United are fresh from beating Manchester City at the Theatre of Dreams in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, which has, in a way, turned around their form after the 4-0 mauling by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend. United are a team that, despite being unbeaten in six matches before the defeat to Chelsea, had not won in the league since the 4-1 hammering of reigning Premier League champions Leicester City back in September. United, much like their local rivals Manchester City, will need to ensure they take all three points this weekend in order to better their league position. Pep Guardiola’s City are winless in their last six matches, still retain their place at the top of the league, despite it being shared, and still seem to have avoided any criticism. Last year, around Christmas time, Manchester United suffered a winless run which saw Louis van Gall being sacked, at least that was what the media were saying, despite that not happening until after the Emirates FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace.
United lie seventh in the league so far this season, and will need to improve their form in order to be considered as title rivals, which is something many feels could happen under Jose Mourinho this season, provided the players find the form, the consistency and the hunger to be able to do so, which is questionable if current form is to be considered. United, despite having a great summer with saw Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba all join the Old Trafford club, without the lure of UEFA Champions League football, many suggested this could be a great season. It started off well but soon went sour and you still see the many glory hunter type fans moaning about the manager, the players and the fact their hunger for glory is not happening, which is the reason their support is here anyway. Manchester United will continue to attract supporter who are fickle like that, but the turbulent times we are currently facing could see them drop their support for other successful club’s, which is a great result at the end of the day.
Jose Mourinho spoke about Mkhitaryan in his press conference on Friday afternoon, talking about the fact the player is now not injured and is training with his teammates. The Armenian has not featured for his club since the first Manchester derby of the season on the 10th September, after the first international break where he injured his thigh. Mkhitaryan did not have the best 45 minutes against United’s noisy neighbours, finding himself being substituted during the break and not being seen from since. Injury did rule him out immediately after that match, but for the past few weeks, he has been injury free and training with his teammates, waiting for his chance to play. Many expected him to face Fenerbahçe last Thursday, then Chelsea on Sunday with Manchester City on Wednesday being the game he was definitely expected to feature in. Despite being called up in the twenty-man squad, he was the only outfield player dropped for the match. Mourinho said:
“He is not injured. Sometimes I confuse the word ‘fit’ in the English language. Sometimes you can say that it is ‘not injured’, but you could also say that you are in great condition and ready to compete. That is different for me as we use different words in Portuguese for the different situations. Mkhitaryan is not injured, he is training with the team 100 per cent.
“The realities are often different, particularly in terms of the competitiveness. It doesn’t matter who you are against, you have to play at the highest level otherwise you will not be able to do it. Micki needs time to become the top player he knows he can be.
“I think Micki will work here for sure. I don’t like to speak about players from other clubs because I don’t want to be misinterpreted, but I don’t think he’ll mind. A player who had a problem to play when he first arrived was Willian. He went through a process and then, after a few months, he became a top player. Then, when we won the championship, he was phenomenal and still is. That is just an example.
“Similarly, Di Maria had to learn a lot about his game when he came into Madrid from Portugal. Sometimes this is what happens. It happens with defenders, but it is often easier for them to adapt than attackers. Some go straight to success and others it takes more time.
“In Micki’s case the process was interrupted by injury, which does not help the process of evolution. Being out for a month meant he has had to go through the process of getting match-fit, then once he has that he needs the competitive level to do it. We believe him and, sooner or later, there will be no problem.”
Michael Keane, along with former goalkeeper Tom Heaton, will both return to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon after Keane was sold by Louis van Gaal the summer before last. Keane has seen himself linked to many clubs in the summer, including Arsenal and Chelsea, which is the destination many feel he will head either in January or next summer. Keane was not really given the chance at United by Van Gaal, which is something he seems to have proven with his meteoric rise for Burnley, seeing them win the Championship and promotion to the Premier League the season after they were relegated. Keane, perhaps the one that got away, spoke to the Telegraph about some fans wishing he was still at Old Trafford, saying:
“It’s nice to hear that some fans wish I was still there. When I left United, that was one of the things I had in my mindset – I wanted to prove them wrong, prove that I was good enough to play earlier. That is the sort of stuff that drives me every day.
“With all the help I’ve had here at Burnley, I think that is what I have done. I definitely don’t regret leaving but, at the same time, I think had I stayed it could have been different. Had I had the option I probably would have stayed and tried my luck but I think leaving has been the best thing for me. Regular games have helped and hopefully when I go back on Saturday I can put in a good performance.”
Manchester United Form:- WLWDD
Manchester City 1-0 W, Chelsea 4-0 L, Fenerbahçe 4-1 W, Liverpool 0-0 D, Stoke City 1-1 D
Manchester United need to build on the victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford on Wednesday by doing the same to Burnley. United need to be beating teams like Burnley to better their league position. United and Burnley have met four times in the Premier League with United winning twice, drawing and losing once. The season before last saw United and Burnley last face each other with a 0-0 draw at Turf Moor, which was Angel Di Maria’s debut, then a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford with Chris Smalling scoring a brace and Robin van Persie scoring the third goal, with Danny Ings scoring the equaliser six minutes after Smalling’s opener.
Burnley Form:- WLLWL
Everton 2-1 W, Southampton 3-1 L, Arsenal 1-0 L, Watford 2-0 W, Leicester City 3-0 L
Burnley may not have started the season in the Premier League all that well, but better than expected. They are the highest newly promoted in the league so far this season, though, which suggests they have started well, but perhaps not as well as they will have liked. A victory over Manchester United would be a great start for them so early in the season tough, and at this turbulent time, Mourinho’s side could well be there for the taking, especially after you look at United’s injuries, which could see six players miss the match. Sean Dyche praised United and Mourinho and stated that he expects them to mount a title challenge this season, which is a respectful comment. Dyche has taken his side a long way, getting them promoted twice, which is commendable. He also seems to have turned Michael Keane into some player, one who seems to have caught the eye of two of United rivals; Arsenal and Chelsea.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
6 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling
Burnley Top Scorers:
3 – Sam Vokes, 1 – Scott Arfield, Steven Defour, Andre Gray, Jeff Hendrick, Michael Keane
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Phil Jones (knee), Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot), Wayne Rooney (muscular injury), Anthony Martial (foot), Marcus Rashford (thigh)
Manager: Sean Dyche
Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton, Paul Robinson, Nick Pope, Conor Mitchell
Defenders: Matthew Lowton, Daniel Lafferty, Jon Flanagan, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, James Tarkowski, Tendayi Darikwa, Kevin Long, Tom Anderson
Midfielders: Dean Marney, Michael Kightly, Jeff Hendrick, Steven Defour, Fredrik Ulvestad, George Boyd, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Scott Arfield, Aiden O’Neill
Forwards: Andre Gray, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes, Patrick Bamford, Rouwen Hennings, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Chris Long
Suspensions/Injuries: Stephen Ward (knee), Steven Defour (hamstring), George Boyd (back), Ashley Barnes (hamstring)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United 3-0 Burnley