Burnley vs. Man U
Venue: Turf Moor
Kick off: 4PM
Burnley play host to Manchester United this afternoon still searching for their first victory of the new Premier League season, as well as looking to overcome the disappointment of failing to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League.
United have put together their worst start to a domestic campaign since 1992, and manager Jose Mourinho is under pressure to register another three points before the international break.
Burnley went into the new domestic campaign full of optimism having built up some form during competitive matches in Europe, but the last two weeks have highlighted how difficult it will be for Sean Dyche’s team to consolidate last season’s efforts.
The disappointment felt from failing to achieve a win against either Southampton, Watford or Fulham in the top flight spiralled over into the second leg with Olympiacos in Europe where the Clarets failed to take their chances against the Greek giants.
Dyche has claimed that both himself and his players will learn from their failure to make it through to the main draw of European football’s secondary competition, but the setback has the potential to linger and it is something which Dyche should be conscious of at this stage of the season.
A high-profile clash against a team the size of United may just be what Burnley need to re-energise a fanbase that has already experienced plenty of highs and lows over a short period, and Burnley showed last year that they are not overawed when it comes to facing one of their nearest rivals.
Life at Manchester United over the past few days has been dominated by the histrionics of Jose Mourinho, and the Portuguese’s behaviour has arguably taken some of the attention away from his misfiring side.
However, that will not be the case when United take to the pitch at Turf Moor as the club’s supporters demand that a third successive defeat in the Premier League is avoided at all cost.
United will only be competing in their fourth game of the season but despite the campaign still being in its infancy, another setback may already leave the club with too much to do in terms of the title race.
The strength of Manchester City and Liverpool suggests that no team at English football’s top table can afford to lose more than five or six games at most, and United will not end their wait for another top-flight crown if Burnley prevail this afternoon.
That is the reality of life in a division which is continuing to evolve by the year, and United simply did not do enough in the transfer market over the summer to be able to give their nearest rivals such a head start.
United do possess a fixture list which is heavily in their favour, however, and Mourinho and his squad are favourites – on paper at least – to win their next five games to put themselves back into contention ahead of the trip to Chelsea on October 20.
That, in theory, is a perfect scenario for Mourinho to get everyone back on side both at Carrington and in the media, and there is an opportunity for the self-proclaimed “special one” to provide more justification for that very tag.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a crunch time for Mourinho and if United are not back in the top six after their next five fixtures, the powers-that-be at the club may decide on another third-season exit for their current boss.
Burnley possible XI: Hart, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Lennon, Westwood, Cork, Hendrick, Barnes, Wood.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Lindelof, Herrera, Smalling, Valencia, Matic, Fellaini, Pogba, Shaw, Sanchez, Lukaku.