13 Jan 2021
United knew a draw or a win in this match of the ongoing Football Premier League would lift the team to the top of the table. To this end, it is job done.
There is still a long way to go, but United are making clear progress.
To sit top of the league nearly exactly a year since a depressing 2-0 home loss to Burnley took us 30 points behind first place, shows Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the team on the right track.
The first half was a scrappy one with VAR inserting itself unwelcomely from United’s perspective.
Edinson Cavani was hacked down through on goal and Robbie Brady should have seen red, only to get away with a yellow. To add insult, United did not even get a free-kick, with one awarded against Luke Shaw at the other end.
Harry Maguire then headed United in front, only for his rare goal to be disallowed.
Maguire beat Erik Pieters to a header, then touched the Burnley defender on his descent, and saw the goal ruled out for an arm in the back.
Peter Crouch summed it up with his response to the disallowed header.United found a way to get Solskjaer’s three first choice attackers into the starting line up for the first time since Istanbul Basaksehir at home.
Anthony Martial was on the left, a position he has played many times before, Marcus Rashford on the right, and Edinson Cavani through the middle.
This might end up becoming United’s most regular and trusted front three. But at the moment it is still a work in progress.
Martial and Rashford are both learning about playing alongside Cavani and vice versa, while also re-adjusting to their own switched roles.
In time, hopefully as soon as this weekend, the trio will come good. But this was a night where it didn’t quite click and they struggled to get in sync.
When United surged forward, Bruno Fernandes was at the heart of it. He was the first player to register a shot on target in the first half.
Fernandes worked hard defensively and found room in space in the final third too.
Paul Pogba was able to get forward more in the second half too and he provided United’s breakthrough.
Fernandes played Marcus Rashford in out wide, who crossed for Pogba to volley the ball into the net, with the help of a deflection.
United were the far superior team in the second half and it was largely down to the way Fernandes and Pogba drove the team forward.
Eric Bailly’s weekend injury provided some uncertainty over who would start this game. Thankfully he was passed fit to start.
This was the type of physical encounter in which Bailly is at his best.
He compliments Maguire well in terms of style and the pair were very effective in shutting Burnley down.
Together they look like United’s best pairing. This should be the duo who start at Anfield on Sunday.
Maguire avoided a booking which would have inflicted a one game suspension and will be available at the weekend.
The team now head to Anfield at the weekend with a three point advantage and the pressure off, with a chance to open up a six-point lead.