By John Ryan
- United have the third best away record this season
- Burnley have the sixth best home record in the Premier League
To many Sean Dyche is the gravel voiced manager of Burnley. To those of us who are older he was Chesterfield’s heroic centre back from 1997.
When a third tier side took on mega millions of Middlesboro in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford of all places, they went two goals up after Dyche’s penalty and drew 3-3. They lost the replay 3-0 but won many admirers for their bold attitude.
Dyche’s Burnley display the same traits as Chesterfield did twenty years ago. They have a go at much more fancied teams and at Turf Moor in particular they get results.
Very clever transfers have seen them sign Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Michael Keane. Somewhat bargain buys but all providing a notable return for their team.
At home this season Burnley have thirty two points from sixteen games.
That is an excellent return for a side tipped for relegation at the start of the season. They face a Manchester United side on Sunday whose away record is as impressive with thirty points from fourteen games.
With both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rojo having sustained long term knee injuries in the midweek win over Anderlecht and with surely one eye on the upcoming Celta Vigo ties, Burnley are meeting United at a time when they could take advantage.
Sam Vokes and Scott Arfield are injury doubts for Burnley but as a squad they have hit a reasonable tally of twenty seven goals in home league games this season.
Their strong work ethic will be a major challenge to United and with Jones, Smalling and now Rojo out, Mourinho is light on defenders ahead of this clash.
Daly Blind played centre back under Luis Van Gaal so is an option there while Michael Carrick has also stepped in there under successive managers.
Former United player Micheal Keane will play in that position on Sunday for the Clarets and is a potential transfer target for all of the top six Premier League clubs.
Mourinho has a chance to watch him first hand on Sunday.
Many Manchester United fans have expressed a view that the Europa League should now get full priority and youth should make up a lot of the team in Premier League games.
If Mourinho goes down that road he will add to his growing reputation at Old Trafford.
While Roy Keane rightly questioned United’s finishing on Thursday night the fact remains that the team is creating a swell of chances each game but needs one brave soul to open the dam.
Marcus Rashford now has a chance to get a run of games in the striker’s role and more goals would be very welcome.
After a hectic week for United this may be one game too far. When the sides met at Old Trafford earlier this season United had thirty seven shots on goal yet Burnley left with a point.
Their spirit and economic use of the ball won’t afford United the same dominance on Sunday and Dyche’s men should have enough in them to get a draw in this one too.
Verdict: Burnley 1-1 United