Manchester United’s holiday season has been more frustrating than festive, and the Red Devils have one more chance to turn things around as they host Burnley at Old Trafford on Thursday.
United (7th place, 28 pts) was handed one of the softest December schedules of any Premier League team, but COVID-19 and poor form has derailed what was meant to be a flying festive fixture list. Narrow and unconvincing 1-0 wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich City were followed by a pair of COVID-19 postponements of games against Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The latest slip, a 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday that saw the struggling Magpies unlucky to come away with all three points, now puts interim manager Ralf Rangnick in a delicate position after following up the departed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A convincing win over Burnley would go a long way towards ushering in 2022 on a high note and easing the negative press.
MORE: Why is Man United called the Red Devils?
Burnley (18th place, 11 pts), meanwhile, is in desperate need of a positive result, and the Clarets will be smelling blood in the water. Watching relegation-threatened Newcastle produce a positive performance against the Red Devils will no doubt galvanize a Burnley squad in need of momentum.
Like United, Burnley’s holiday schedule was wrecked by COVID-19 postponements, with three straight matches pushed, meaning it hasn’t played a fixture since a 0-0 draw with West Ham on Dec. 12. United seemed to struggle from rust after its two-match layoff, so with Burnley looking at nearly three weeks without a game, attacking flow could be problematic for the visitors. That for a club that already hasn’t scored in three straight matches, leaving Burnley desperate for a sign of life up front.
Sporting News will be following the match live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Man United vs. Burnley live score
(All times Eastern)
1:20 p.m. ET: This is the sort of schtick that Manchester United has been forced to endure since the Newcastle match with all the talk of negative body language and speculation that the players are not taking well to Ralf Rangnick’s late training sessions. We’ll see if it triggers a reaction.
BREAKING: Manchester United’s game against Burnley has been called OFF due to Rangnick’s side not wanting to go out past 5pm. pic.twitter.com/2QkZLpKTrx
— Sky Sports News 🅙 (@SkysSportNewsHQ) December 30, 2021
Man United vs. Burnley 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.
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.
Man United subs (9): (Starting lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
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.
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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 if Cornet returns, 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.
Burnley subs (9): (Starting lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
How to watch Man 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 subscribers)
The match will also stream on NBCSports.com for authenticated subscribers to cable, satellite or telco packages.
Man United-Burnley betting pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Both teams have been inconsistent so far this season and it’s tough to say what version of both teams we’ll be getting, especially given the layoffs they have endured of late. For that reason, this would typically be a stay-away game.
What’s certain is that Burnley will be entering Old Trafford thinking defense first, and then hoping to nick a goal on the other end. That tactic hasn’t worked too well for Burnley coach Sean Dyche in 12 career matches against Man United. The Red Devils have scored 18 times in those games, including 10 times in six games at Old Trafford. So while they’ve avoided embarrassing, lopsided results, the Burnley defense has still been regularly breached by United.
For those compelled to make a pick on this game, the under might be the best strategy as both sides continue to work their way to better form.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals (+125)
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Burnley
- Moneyline: Man United -275 / Draw +425 / Burnley +750
- Spread: Man United -1.5 (+110) / Burnley +1.5 (-125)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -155 / Under +125
- Both teams to score: Yes -105 / No -120