Jose Mourinho’s men made up ground on their local rivals last time out, beating Stoke 3-0 in the Monday night fixture after City had been beaten 4-3 by Liverpool in a pulsating encounter at Anfield a day earlier. Their title chances are still extremely slim, but the fact that Pep Guardiola’s charges do not kick off until Saturday evening gives the Red Devils an opportunity to move closer to the summit of the standings when they make the short trip across Lancashire. The imminent signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal has increased optimism around Old Trafford in the last few days; the arrival of the Chile international will provide a further boost to United, although he is unlikely to be available for this weekend’s encounter.
Sean Dyche’s side were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace in their last game, which extended their winless run to six matches. Burnley are clearly going through a sticky patch at present, but it is testament to the tremendous work Dyche did in the first half of the season that the Clarets are still untroubled by relegation despite their recent downturn in form. A 14-point buffer above the bottom three is a marvellous achievement for a club who were among the favourites for demotion this term, and the fact Burnley have still only conceded 20 goals in 2017/18 – fewer than all but United, Manchester City and Chelsea – shows they are a tough nut to crack.
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United will have to make do without Eric Bailly (ankle), Daley Blind (knock) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee) this weekend, but Mourinho has no fresh fitness concerns. The Portuguese may be tempted to stick with the same XI which swatted Stoke aside so convincingly last time out, with Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata deployed behind striker Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba afforded the freedom to break forward from midfield. Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks set to join Arsenal in the coming days and will therefore play no part at Turf Moor.
Burnley will be unable to call upon the services of Jon Walters (knee), Chris Wood (knee), Tom Heaton (shoulder), Stephen Ward (knee) and Robbie Brady (knee), while Scott Arfield (hamstring) and Charlie Taylor (rib) will be assessed before kick-off. Dyche does not usually rotate his starting XI but may be tempted to include Georges-Kevin N’Koudou in his line-up after the Tottenham Hotspur loanee’s impressive cameo against Palace, with the winger’s pace likely to make him a potent weapon on the counter-attack against opponents who will dominate possession.
Taking everything into account, it is probably worth backing an away win to nil on Saturday. Burnley have lost at home to Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham already this term, and they head into this match in poor form after a superb first half of the season. It may still be difficult for the visitors to break their hosts down at times, but United have more than enough quality to prise open the Burnley backline at some point. As far as an anytime goalscorer is concerned, it is worth noting that Jesse Lingard has found the back of the net five times in his last five away games in the Premier League.