By Harry Ogilvie
- Mourinho names a starting line-up containing eight changes
- Both Rooney and Martial recalled
After a gruelling 120 minutes on Thursday night against a decent Anderlecht side, United made it through to the Europa League semi-final after Rashford scored a superb winning goal in the second half of extra time.
Forty-two hours later they faced a Burnley side renowned for their home form this season at Turf Moor and after a goalless draw in the two sides previous encounter this season, expectations may not have been too high.
Mourinho selected a strong side despite serious injuries to two key men, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo on Thursday.
Both are believed to have sustained damage to ligaments in their knee, keeping them out for the rest of the season.
Ibrahimovic has apparently suffered a double blow, injuring two ligaments in the match against Anderlecht.
As the news hit social media, many United fans expressed their sadness and some even think that that is the last we could see of Ibrahimovic in a United shirt.
United Players Show Support For Injured Duo
In support of the 35 year-old and Marcos Rojo, the United players had either Rojo or Ibrahimović’s name printed on the back of their shirts in the warm up.
These injuries have come at a crucial stage of the season, worrying many United fans.
Mourinho recalled Martial and Wayne Rooney into the starting line-up after a few games out of the team.
Ander Herrera also started after his excellent performance against Chelsea last weekend, alongside Fellaini and Pogba in midfield.
United started strong, creating chances and using the pace of Martial in the number nine role to pressure Burnley’s defence with Rooney and Lingard either side of him.
Martial Opens The Scoring
The first goal came in the 21st minute from a devastating counter attack, starting with Martial driving forty yards with the ball, playing a one-two with Herrera and finishing with him slotting the ball past Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.
The second goal came from another exceptional run from Martial who ran on to a neat ball from Paul Pogba and tried to convert the opportunity, only for the ball to fall to Wayne Rooney. He stuck the ball through Michael Keane’s legs and into the net.
This goal capped off a brilliant first half performance from the Reds, which seen saw create plenty chances, score twice and not concede. Martial proved the difference with a goal and an assist.
The advantage allowed United to take their foot off the gas a little in the second half and allowed them to sit back and ask questions of The Clarets attack.
This made the half slightly duller from a United fan perspective but there was still the occasional heart in mouth moment when defending some of Burnley’s set pieces and long balls.
Burnley created little clean cut chances, partly down to lack of creativity on their part but mostly down to some outstanding defending from Bailly, Blind, Darmian and Fellaini too.
David De Gea had little to do but when called upon, he did what he needed to. The game finished 2-0 United. This result meant De Gea became the youngest goalkeeper in premier league history to reach 100 clean sheets, echoing much appreciation for him on social media.
Martial United’s Star Man
The most impressive performance came from Sky Sports Man of the Match winner, Anthony Martial. The young Frenchman started and finished a beautiful counter attacking move which seen United go 1-0 up.
He then proceeded to further defy his critics when he played a huge part in the second goal, in which Rooney finished off to put his side 2-0 up.
Martial also ran his socks off throughout the game- constantly pressing, running with the ball and getting involved in link up play with the likes of Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard.
Another performer who received several plaudits for his efforts on social media was Eric Bailly. The Ivorian was solid, composed and confident.
In recent games, Bailly has been exceptional and has looked to have found his form from the beginning of the season.
He will no doubt be crucial to any plans to stop Manchester City on Thursday. However, many reds looked anxious after he went down but the man who has been described by many fans as ‘the Terminator’ got straight back up.
Paul Pogba was less fortunate however as he had to be substituted after going down in the second half. The £89 million man was also very impressive.
In a game which would have been very physically demanding, he provided discipline, creativity and a strong physical presence.
There weren’t many players that could be criticised after a very diligent, professional away performance at Turf Moor.
Every United player put in a shift and looked extremely committed to the cause.
This performance after the one against Chelsea would have been very pleasing for Mourinho to see.
It looks as if the result against the Blues has provided a much needed confidence boost for the players and will hopefully spur on further success this season.
The Manager’s View
Jose when asked about still competing in the Premier League and the Europa League said “Fourth position is not a trophy and in this club we want trophies.”
Reflecting on these comments, it’s believed that United will now concentrate on the Europa League rather than the Premier League in their journey towards Champions League football.
The gaffer was also asked about his thoughts on Martial, he said “Today he showed attitude and appetite. We’re pleased that we have a new player until the end of the season.”
Mourinho shows he was publicly satisfied with Martial after a brilliant performance. United fans will be hoping to see plenty more of him in between now and the end of the season.
The Portuguese also said “We miss two very important players but we have other players… We cry because of big injuries to two friends and their surgeries and long-time recoveries.”
This shows Mourinho’s sadness at losing two of his key players but it also shows his belief in his squad’s depth.
He then appeared to throw shade at local rivals, Man City ahead of their Thursday night encounter.
He said “the situation is open but Man City only has to play Premier League football and we have to play in the semi-finals of a European competition.”
Mourinho’s mind games have already begun. He’s shed some light on the fact City are no longer in any European competition whereas United are still vying for the Europa League trophy.
For Mourinho’s men to go to Turf Moor and comfortably beat Burnley with a strong professional performance is outstanding considering this is a side that have taken points from several members of the top six when playing them at home.
This result also reflects brilliantly on United’s continually extraordinary away form and their ability to pick points up on the road.
It also sees United go another 3 points ahead of Arsenal and another 3 points closer to Liverpool and City.
The boss will no doubt be very satisfied with his team’s performance, but he will also have his mind on the derby which could see Pogba miss out after being substituted due to a potential injury.
However, I do not doubt he has a plan in place to beat a side who are both their local rivals and fellow challengers for the Champion’s League places.
I, like every other United fan will be hoping Pogba is fit and most importantly, hoping to see United pick up 3 points against City at the Ethiad.
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