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Fighting for First
Manchester United face Burnley on Tuesday with a chance to move into first in the Premier League table.
The Reds have gotten themselves in this position by stringing together a 10-match unbeaten run in league play.
With this game rescheduled from the start of this season Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team can move into sole possession of first with a win or draw.
The Clarets are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Premier League table.
Sean Dyche’s side has 16 points and sits just five points clear of relegation though they do have two games in hand.
Lineup News and Notes
Burnley’s boss will hope to have a number of players with COVID back in the lineup.
Ashley Westwood, Josh Brownhill, Jimmy Dunne, and Bailey Peacock-Farrell missed Saturday’s FA Cup victory for the Clarets due to self-isolation rules or positive tests.
Dyche now has to decide whether or not some of them are ready to return without much training.
“They’ve been double tested again and the timescale fits in. We’ve followed all the protocols so hopefully people will be available,” says Dyche.
Nick Pope is expected to be back in goal following an ankle injury that forced him to miss their FA Cup tie this past weekend.
Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, and Jay Rodriguez are likely to be game-time decisions.
For United Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof are cleared to return so we could see a different defensive setup.
Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba should be recovered from injuries and back in the lineup.
“All of them trained today [Monday]” Solskjaer said of Pogba, Shaw, Lindelof, and Bailly. “Paul and Eric just didn’t do all of it, but Luke and Victor did all of it.
Edinson Cavani is available again following his three-match ban.
One department Burnley’s been struggling with this season is scoring goals.
In 15 fixtures Sean Dyche’s side has a mere nine goals which is bested only by last-place Sheffield United.
The Clarets have gone scoreless in eight Premier League games this season.
They’ve struggled to score when hosting Man United with just one goal in their six games at home to them.
Burnley hasn’t won at home against the Reds since a 2-0 result back on August 19 2009.
They did pull off a 2-0 victory the last time they played United last season at Old Trafford.
The Clarets haven’t won consecutive league games against United since 1968.
Righting the ship
United and Burnley have both been on pretty good runs of late.
The Reds haven’t lost in their last 10 Premier League games scoring 24 goals and conceding 11 in that span.
It’s a huge improvement from a team that lost of its opening three fixtures.
Burnley meanwhile has given themselves some breathing room losing just once in their last six Premier League encounters.
That run has given them a five-point cushion from the relegation zone with two games in hand.
The Clarets got their first league win on their eighth game this season.
When you lack the ability to score you have to find other ways to earn points.
That seems to be a lesson Burnley’s picked up as they’ve shown to be very strong at the back.
It starts with a holy goalkeeper better known as Nick Pope.
The Clarets number one is regularly involved with England for a reason, he’s smart, reads the game well, is positionally sound, and a great shot-stopper.
He’s a big reason for their recent success with 29 saves in his last six EPL matches.
Pope has 51 saves this season and six clean sheets.
He may face a lot of shots but the defence has played solid lately too.
Ben Mee and James Tarkowski form a strong partnership in a defence that’s tied for third in the league with clean sheets (six) and third in blocks (65).
Man United carries a perfect road record into Tuesday’s match.
They’re the only team in the Premier League that’s still unbeaten away from home with six wins and a draw.
It’s been 14 games since they lost away from Old Trafford.
The Reds are also a perfect 1-0 in the Premier League since the New Year.
Room for improvement
Many would consider Manchester United’s rise back to the top a monumental one given their start to the season.
After coming in a distant third last season the Reds started the 2020/21 campaign with two losses in its first three games.
They conceded 11 goals in those matches.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says while they’re in a much better position now they can’t take their foot off the gas.
“We are better off than this time last season, but no-one remembers the league table in January. “For us, it’s about improving and we showed that we can bounce back from disappointment,” says Solskjaer.
Tuesday’s game from Turf Moor goes at 8:15 pm. (JSL).