Solskjaer on the verge of history as United welcome Burnley to Old Trafford

Three points will draw United level with Chelsea
Football Whispers  |  28th January 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have only been appointed Manchester United interim boss five weeks ago, but he already stands on the verge of Premier League history.

After a hugely satisfying FA Cup win over Arsenal, the focus quickly reverts back to the league and United’s Norwegian saviour has the chance to etch his name into English football folklore.

If Solskjaer guides United to a Tuesday night win over Burnley at Old Trafford, he will be the first manager to win his first seven Premier League games in charge, surpassing Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, both of whom managed six.

It would be quite an achievement and one which would underline the 45-year-old’s immense impact at the club but, despite their troubles this season, beating Burnley is not a foregone conclusion.

Here, we preview Tuesday night’s clash.

Form

United, of course, are flying. The Red Devils have won all eight games under Solskjaer, the most recent of which being that FA Cup triumph over Arsenal.

Having extended their flawless record under the former striker, United will be fully confident of maintaining the momentum with a win over Burnley.

United to score 2 or more goals in the first half v Burnley WAS 2.80, NOW 3.10*

Sean Dyche’s Clarets travel to Old Trafford in a more sombre mood, having been swatted aside 5-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday.

However, while that result would seem par for course for a side languishing down in 16th in the table, Burnley’s form prior to their trip to the Etihad had actually improved significantly.

After a crushing 5-1 defeat at home to Everton the Lancashire outfit picked up crucial league wins over West Ham, Huddersfield and Fulham before picking up a point away to Watford.

With ten points out of a possible 12, Dyche’s men have moved three points clear of the relegation zone and should provide a stubborn test for United on Tuesday, especially with several first-teamers returning having been rested for the City game.

United to win & over 4.5 goals in the match WAS 4.00, NOW 4.50*

Tactics

Solskjaer showed his nous with a clever tactical tweak to help United to a win at Arsenal. Emulating Belgium boss Roberto Martinez’s game plan against Brazil at the World Cup, he deployed Romelu Lukaku out wide to give Alexis Sanchez a more prominent role through the middle.

It worked beautifully, too, with Lukaku providing the assist for Sanchez’s opener, as well as Jesse Lingard’s goal.

Such tactics won’t be required against Burnley, however, with Dyche’s men most likely setting up to frustrate their hosts.

As such, United will dictate the play much more than they did in the wins at Tottenham and Arsenal.

United have averaged over 60 per cent possession in the three league games at Old Trafford under Solskjaer and Tuesday is expected to see them dominate the ball once again.

Lukaku and Sanchez’s return to form has created a selection headache for Solskjaer, with Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial all playing well too.

Lukaku grabbed both goals in United’s win at Turf Moor in August so it’s possible the interim boss will look to utilise the Belgian’s aerial threat against the Clarets’ back-line.

Key players

Romelu Lukaku

Having recently shone the spotlight on Rashford and Paul Pogba, we’re backing Lukaku to play a key role on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old boasts an impressive record against this week’s opponents, having been involved in six goals in as many starts (four goals, two assists), including that brace back in August.

The former Everton striker’s two assists on Friday will provide a welcome boost in confidence. Lukaku hasn’t been a regular under Solskjaer but his return is still impressive, with three goals and two assists in 233 minutes of action (a direct goal involvement every 46 minutes).

With Burnley likely to invite pressure at Old Trafford, this could be the perfect game for Lukaku to continue his fine recent form and add to this season’s tally of eight Premier League goals.

Lukaku to score and United to win 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1 WAS 5.50, NOW 6.50*

Dwight McNeil

The 19-year-old winger has caught the eye of late having broken into the team at the start of the season.

McNeil made his first Premier League start in the defeat to United in August but has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks.

The young Englishman scored his first goal for the club in the win over West Ham before producing an excellent assist for Chris Wood’s equaliser against Huddersfield three days later.

McNeil was also a standout in the defeat of Fulham and, full of confidence after securing a new contract, he is the player most likely to hurt United – with whom he spent time during his youth career – on Tuesday.

Prediction

United’s form combined with Burnley’s miserable record at Old Trafford points to another three points for Solskjaer’s side.

The Clarets haven’t won at the Theatre of Dreams since September 1962, with 12 defeats and seven draws in 19 visits since.

Although it’s surely a coincidence more than anything else, it’s worth noting Dyche has never lost a Premier League game on a Tuesday, with a record of three wins and two defeats.

Widing the crest of a wave, though, United should have too much firepower for Burnley.

* odds subject to change

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