Manchester United play Burnley in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
United returned from their enforced break – due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the club – against Newcastle earlier in the week, but the display wasn’t worth waiting for as Ralf Rangnick’s side stumbled to a 1-1 draw against one of the league’s relegation candidates.
Newcastle have won just one game all season and yet they created enough chances against United to win the game. David de Gea made a heroic save in the latter stages of the match to deny Miguel Almiron’s effort and that ensured the points were shared.
Although United have two games in hand over Arsenal in fourth place, they are seven points adrift from the Champions League places, which means there can be little margin for error in the coming weeks and that starts against Burnley on Thursday.
Which players should Rangnick select for the game? Here’s how MEN’s writers think United should line up…
Eric Bailly would be a worthy inclusion if he was not about to head off on Africa Cup of Nations duty. The back four was unconvincing at Newcastle but United need proactive full-backs.
It is not a night for Scott McTominay and Fred. Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic could break the lines with their passing against what is bound to be a compact Burnley side.
Bruno Fernandes is suspended and Marcus Rashford should be dropped. Mason Greenwood’s substitution at Newcastle was harsh and he deserves another start. Jadon Sancho should come in and Edinson Cavani partner Cristiano Ronaldo, as long as he doesn’t declare himself unavailable.
Changes have to arrive after the performance at St James’ Park and in defence the most obvious one is a return to the starting line-up for Shaw. With Lindelof out with Covid and Bailly about to go to the Africa Cup of Nations there’s not much wriggle room at centre back.
The midfield was disastrous at Newcastle and to persist with Fred and McTominay against Burnley would be extremely damning. Van de Beek can partner the Scot in the deep-lying roles. With Fernandes suspended it’s time for Sancho – harshly dropped at St James’ Park – to return alongside Greenwood, who was harshly hooked at half-time on Monday.
Ronaldo was disappointing as well on Monday but remains a certainty to start and Cavani has to come in alongside him. He was impressive off the bench against Newcastle and can add some bite to the forward line.
Which players would you name in the starting XI? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Nothing except the three points will be acceptable on Thursday after United’s draw against Newcastle earlier this week.
Telles was troubled by Ryan Fraser in that game at St. James’ Park and Shaw should come back into the starting line-up, however, Wan-Bissaka can remain on the bench as Dalot’s proactiveness will be needed against a deep-lying Burnley side.
Rashford has been anonymous in recent weeks and doesn’t deserve to start here. Van de Beek needs to impress in Fernandes’ absence and Sancho should play on the right. Greenwood was unfortunate to be brought off at half-time away at Newcastle – Rashford was the obvious candidate again – and it’s probably a coin toss between him and Cavani to start alongside Ronaldo.