The annual Boxing Day fixture is here as the second-half of the season begins.
Unfortunately, United will have had a less cheerful Christmas Day than they’d have hoped; with their spirits likely down due to their recent results, after also having to train. In contrast, the surprise package of the season in Burnley will have been soaking up the festive spirit as they sit near the top of the tree at this stage, rather than nearer the bottom.
Returning to Old Trafford for the next four out of the five upcoming matches, it seems the league title may have abated José Mourinho’s grasp this season with more points dropped in a gutting manner. However, when Sean Dyche assesses his team’s efforts at the halfway mark of the season, he will surely be more than pleased.
It’s time for the real feast of this time of year to begin…
Kick-off: 15:00 (GMT)
Location: Old Trafford
Form: LDWWL (last 5 games)
Top scorer: Chris Wood (4)
Young goalkeeper Nick Pope has massively impressed since coming into the first team and will be hoping to pull off a classic goalkeeping masterclass at Old Trafford as the opposition stopper.
Former red Phil Bardsley is set to start.
It’s unknown as to whether Chris Wood is available due to picking up a knee injury in their last match against Tottenham Hotspur in which he was substituted off early on.
- Robbie Brady; knee (6 months remaining)
- Tom Heaton; shoulder (2 weeks remaining)
- Dean Marney; knee (Returned to training)
- James Tarkowski; hand (3 weeks remaining)
- Chris Wood; knee (unknown)
- Stephen Ward; knee (1 week remaining)
Style of play
Operating in a 4-4-1-1 formation, they emphasise on adapting themselves to each situation in order to take their chances in whatever way.
By not sticking to a riding system, goals have come through tiki-taka moves via the central play-maker Jeff Hendrick, wide-men Scott Arfield and Johann Berg Gudmundsson and the industrious Steven Defour but also the route one tactic by using Sam Vokes and Chris Wood as target men.
The Red Devils
The title race looks to be over unless a no doubt historic Premier League comeback can be pulled off by United to catch City despite them having the highest ever lead in Premier League history at Christmas.
Cup competitions in the FA Cup and Champions League could be the focus of Mourinho and his men for the rest of the season.
The most hectic fixture list of any of the ‘big six’ belongs to United; and they already have baggage.
With defensive troubles shown up at times by Leicester City in their last outing, the 3-4-3 formation could see a return.
Juan Mata is in good form after being one of the only players to come away from the last match unscathed as he accumulated 300 appearances in English football at the weekend.
After getting some minutes again following his exile, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could play a part (especially after his iconic Boxing Day goal last season).
Praised somewhat surprisingly after the weekend’s match in which they weren’t involved in, youngster Scott McTominay could be in line for an appearance in the squad.
- Eric Bailly; ankle (3 months remaining)
- Michael Carrick; heart (unknown)
- Matteo Darmian; knock (imminent return)
- Marouane Fellaini; knee (3 weeks remaining)
- Antonio Valencia; hamstring (2 weeks remaining)
WDW (last 3 games)
United have only conceded one goal in their last four meetings with Burnley.
José Mourinho has drew and been reduced to 10 men the last two times he faced Burnley, with Ander Herrera and Matić both being the players to have been sent off.
Referee: James Atkinson
- Early in the 1962/63 was the last time Burnley beat United at Old Trafford
- In this fixture last season, 38 shots were accumulated by United – the highest number in a single game of the 2016/17 season
- The lowest number of goals this season in any teams’ games this campaign belong to Burnley with just 31 goals in their 19 matches
- United have the best record of any side in the division on Boxing Day, winning 19 of the 23 matches they have played (83%)
- Burnley sit in their highest places position in the top-flight on Boxing Day since the 1973/74 when they were in 6th and finished 3rd
- United last lost a home Boxing Day game was during the 1978/79 campaign as Liverpool won 0-3 – prior to 14 wins and 2 draws since
- Burnley have 4 former opposition players in their squad, the majority of which will almost certainly not play
- Added time goals have come for the opposition each of United’s last 2 matches
Enjoy the match!