Manchester United’s draw against Newcastle just two days ago was littered with talking points, and none of them were any good for the Red Devils.
While Ralf Rangnick’s crew was putrid in front of net against a defensively disorganized Magpies squad, actual footballing was only half the discussion post-match. The focus was instead on the body language and mental state of Manchester United players who were constantly complaining to the referee and to fellow teammates, expressing a general frustration as the match progressed.
With another opportunity against a bottom-tier Premier League side in Burnley (18th, 11 points), can Manchester United (7th, 28 points) produce a get-right performance, or will the struggles continue and the frustration continue to grow? This game is critical for putting to bed any discussion of Rangnick’s grip on the team as interim manager.
There is another team playing in the match, however, and Burnley will see a wounded animal and look to capitalize. But three straight postponements due to COVID-19 could leave the Clarets incredibly rusty, as their opponents experienced themselves at Newcastle. Burnley has not played since a 0-0 draw against West Ham on Dec. 12, with matches against Watford, Aston Villa, and Everton all requiring a makeup.
Burnley has also seen three games come and go without a single goal scored. Sean Dyche’s squad hasn’t scored since the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace on Nov. 20. Forward Jay Rodriguez is mired in a slump, and as a whole, Burnley has scored just 14 goals in 15 matches, the second-worst haul in the league ahead of only Norwich City’s eight.
How to watch Manchester United vs. Burnley
- Date: Thursday, Dec. 30
- Time: 3:15 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBCSN
- Spanish-language TV: Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV, NBCSports.com (authenticated users)
The Thursday afternoon match between Manchester United and Burnley from Old Trafford will be broadcast on NBCSN (English) and Universo (Spanish) in the USA.
Man United vs. Burnley projected lineups
Paul Pogba remains out for Manchester United with a thigh problem, but overall the Red Devils are still quite healthy.
Victor Lindelof tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Newcastle match and remains out, while Bruno Fernandes takes a seat for yellow-card accumulation. A game off might do the Portuguese attacker well. It could also see an opening for Donny van de Beek, who has seen precious few minutes since arriving at Old Trafford. But it’s still a question whether he fits Rangnick’s 4-4-2 system featuring two holding midfielders and no No. 10.
Ralf Rangnick could also shake up the sputtering attack, as the team looked far more incisive with Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho off the bench against Newcastle. Could they see starts for Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, who both struggled mightily? Luke Shaw is also waiting to make his return to the starting lineup, but Alex Telles currently has a chokehold on the left fullback spot.
Man United projected starting lineup (4-4-2): De Gea (GK) — Telles, Maguire, Varane, Dalot — Sancho, McTominay, Fred, Rashford — Ronaldo, Cavani.
Burnley’s injury list is eased by the long COVID-19 layoff, with Maxwel Cornet recovering and able to return. Ashley Barnes and Connor Roberts are both still out with long-term issues, the only known absences for the Clarets in this game. Dale Stephens is likely to have shaken off his bout with COVID-19 in time to be available.
The biggest question for Burnley boss Sean Dyche is what to do with Jay Rodriguez. The former Southampton man has been a bench option for most of the season, earning only two starts, including the last time out against West Ham. But he’s still without a goal this season. It’s clear regular minutes would continue to help him, but with Cornet considered “a judgement call”, it’s also possible Rodriguez once again rejoins the subs.
Burnley projected starting lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Pope (GK) — Taylor, Mee, Collins, Lowton — McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson — Wood, Cornet.
Man United vs. Burnley betting pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Yes, it’s probably trendy right now to bet against Manchester United. But it’s also true that Burnley is a relegation candidate. Then again, that was also the case with Newcastle, but Man United still couldn’t handle the Magpies. Joelinton’s bossing of the Red Devils’ midfield was an indicator of the tall task facing Rangnick, and two days won’t solve all the problems.
On the flip side, Burnley could suffer from many of the same issues that plagued Manchester United against Newcastle after its own long COVID-induced layoff. The lack of rhythm won’t help an already sputtering Burnley attack.
In 12 career games against Manchester United, Burnley boss Sean Dyche has found results, winning one back in January 2020 and earning four other draws. Still, the usually stout Burnley defense has been breached 18 times in those 12 games against the Red Devils, including 10 times in six games at Old Trafford. Burnley hardly is a bogey side for United.
Normally, given all this conflicting information, it would be advisable to stay away from this game entirely. However, if you’re intent on making a pick, taking the under could prove the best strategy for a match between two teams that are far from convincing.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals (+120)
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Burnley
- Moneyline: Man United -270 / Draw +400 / Burnley +850
- Spread: Man United -1.5 (+110) / Burnley +1.5 (-120)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -145 / Under +120
- Both teams to score: Yes -105 / No -125