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A 1-0 win against Sheffield United took us out of 2020 and was followed by the penalty shoot out win against MK in the FA Cup ; now Manchester United are at the Turf for our first Premier League game of 2021.

When Manchester United visit Turf Moor the name of Robbie Blake always gets a mention. Anyone with even the slightest interest in Burnley Football Club will know that Robbie scored that stunning goal, our first in the Premier League, to give us a 1-0 win against them. Unfortunately we haven’t beaten them at home since; we haven’t even scored against them since.

It’s incredible to think that if we need to look back at our last three home league goalscorers against them we have to include Geoff Nulty who equalised George Best’s goal to give us a 1-0 win in 1969/70 and then, in the previous season, there was that late, stunning goal from the wonderful Brian O’Neil that gave us a 1-0 win.

We could do with changing that and scoring some home goals against them. We can manage it at Old Trafford with six in the last three seasons and with a bit of criticism from Sean Dyche ringing in the ears of our strikers then maybe tonight is the night.

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One of those strikers has spoken about it. Ashley Barnes needs just one more goal to complete a century in senior competitive football and said ahead of tonight’s game: “It’s a good achievement for myself but that’s not where I want to stop. I want to be the top goalscorer for Burnley in Premier League history, so I’ve got targets to him and I set targets for myself.

“I know where I want to be come the end of the season. We’re obviously not half way yet and it’s not good enough from my point of view and that needs to improve.” He added: “I just need to put my boots on the right feet again.”

Barnes and Chris Wood, who missed chances in the cup tie, have scored more than any other Burnley players in the Premier League. Barnes leads the way with 39 while Wood has 37. Sam Vokes is third highest with 17 goals.

I think Sean Dyche will stick with them tonight. Jay Rodriguez remains a doubt but Matěj Vydra has definitely pushed himself into the reckoning after scoring the goal against MK.

We have so many players who are not certain to play that it’s very difficult to determine what the team might be. Nick Pope is fit while the club report that all of Charlie Taylor, Kevin Long, Dwight McNeil and Rodriguez face fitness checks. I understand that Taylor could be out for a while yet but there is better news of the others.

Regular midfielders Josh Brownhill and Ashley Westwood were both ruled out at the weekend and with the club having confirmed we had some missing because of the virus it pointed to those two although it is hoped they will both be fit to return tonight.

If they are available then I think the team is likely to be: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Robbie Brady, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes. Subs from: Will Norris, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Josh Benson, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra, Joel Mumbongo.

Manchester United arrive at Burnley behind only Liverpool and that’s on goal difference which means any sort of positive result for them will take them top of the league. And of concern is their away record this season.

They’ve been beaten three times at Old Trafford, by Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal but the last of those was on 1st November. They’ve since been unbeaten in ten games with eight of them won and the draws coming against Manchester City and Leicester.

Their Boxing Day draw at Leicester brought the only points dropped on the road all season. All of their six previous away games, at Brighton, Newcastle, Everton, Southampton, West Ham and Sheffield United have all been won.

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Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are definitely two to watch in front of goal. Rashford has scored seven Premier League goals this season; Fernandes has eleven although five of those have come from the penalty spot – the things we only get in shoot outs.

Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba face late tests but Victor Lindelöf (pictured) and Luke Shaw could return. They also have Edinson Cavani available again after serving a three match ban.

Their predicted line up, should players be passed fit, is: David de Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Their visit last season came three days before the end of 2019. We’d just been beaten at Everton but still sat 12th in the Premier League.

United did what they had done in the three previous seasons at Burnley. They kept a clean sheet, scored a couple of goals and went home with all three points.

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Both goals came right at the end of the two halves. Anthony Martial, who has made a habit of scoring goals at the Turf, scored just before half time with Marcus Rashford netting the second in stoppage time.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Jay Rodriguez 59), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork (Robbie Brady 86), Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 68). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Danny Drinkwater.

Manchester United: David de Gea, Ashley Young, Victor Lindelöf, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams, Ander Pereira (Jesse Lingard 73), Fred, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial (Luke Shaw 89), Marcus Rashford. Subs not used: Serge Romero, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood.

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