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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Burnley

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The Reds must bounce back from a tough loss at the weekend

Burnley FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

Everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs. Burnley on Wednesday:

(1) It wasn’t exactly a lopsided scoreline, but Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Anfield still hurts. The shorthanded Reds somewhat held their own against the heavily-favored hosts, but goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah proved a just reflection of Liverpool’s superiority.

(2) On the bright side, most of the teams surrounding Manchester United in the table continue to drop points, starting with Newcastle’s last gasp smash-and-grab against Chelsea on Saturday. That means the Reds didn’t really lose any ground this weekend, though they admittedly missed a great chance to draw closer to the top four. United need to get back on track with Burnley in town.

(3) Bad news on Marcus Rashford: United’s top scorer missed the Liverpool match with a double stress fracture in his back and will be out “for weeks.” He joins Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay on the shelf, leaving Solskjaer’s squad severely understaffed. After all the talk about a renewed focus on conditioning and training, United seem just as plagued with injuries as they were last season.

(4) The Bruno Fernandes saga continues to drag on and on. The huge optimism of last week — which led many to expect Friday’s Benfica loss would be his Sporting Lisbon swan song — has instead crashed on the rocks of Ed Woodward’s transfer department. In fact, the whole deal now seems on the brink of collapse. Sporting reportedly want a bigger fee (and fewer add-ons) than United are willing to pay, so this impasse might last a while.

(5) While we wait on any incoming transfers, Ashley Young bid adieu to Old Trafford this week and is off to Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan. With Young gone, United got a boost with the return of Diogo Dalot, who should slot in as the backup right-back behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The club also extended Eric Bailly’s contract by two years, with the Ivorian even making the bench at Liverpool for the first time this season.

(6) Just a few weeks ago, Manchester United eased past Burnley 2-0. Goals from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford helped the Reds cap off a tumultuous 2019 with a win. Despite the comfortable margin, the match remained in doubt until the dying seconds, when Rashford killed the game off with a sliding strike. Still, United were the better side and must fancy their chance at all three points on Wednesday.

(7) On Sunday, Burnley shocked Leicester City 2-1 at Turf Moor. The visitors jumped out to a first-half lead — aided, perhaps, by an uncalled foul in midfield — but the Clarets turned it all around after the break. Nick Pope saved a Jamie Vardy penalty and both Chris Wood and Ashley Westwood scored to hand Burnley a priceless win.

(8) Up until the Leicester match, Burnley were headed in the wrong direction. They had lost four Premier League games in a row, slipping perilously close to the relegation zone. Now, though, the Clarets are up to 14th with a five point cushion between them and the drop.

(9) Despite Sunday’s big rally, these Clarets are not a group built for comebacks.

(10) With the club sliding into danger, Burnley look to be buyers during the January transfer window. Sean Dyche kicked the tires on Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, but the Blues opted to loan him to Swansea City instead. Burnley are also reportedly interested in Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry and Bristol City’s Josh Brownhill, with the latter rumored to be close to a £6 million deal. Regardless, it’s doubtful any of these moves would be complete in time for Wednesday.

(11) Following the win over Leicester, Sean Dyche admitted that the ups and downs are all part of life in the Premier League — especially for a club of Burnley’s size:

That’s nine points out of seven games. That doesn’t sound like a king’s ransom, but in the Premier League that’s a pretty healthy return, especially against some of the teams we’ve faced. The bigger picture is that we know what we are about and we just reminded the players of that this week. There’s still lots of work to be done, but for clubs like ours it’s about a season’s work. You are likely to have tough spells and it’s about how you react and come out of that. Today, we showed we have that in us.