Manchester United’s holiday season has been more frustrating than festive, but the Red Devils may have found some late Christmas cheer as they host Burnley at Old Trafford on Thursday.
United (7th place, 28 pts) was handed one of the softest December schedules of any Premier League team, but COVID-19 and poor form has derailed what was meant to be a flying festive fixture list. Narrow and unconvincing 1-0 wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich City were followed by a pair of COVID-19 postponements of games against Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The latest slip, a 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday, forced Rangnick to ring six changes for the game against Burnley, and that appears to have lit a fire behind the squad, with a 3-1 halftime lead only blemished by a late consolation for the Clarets before the break.
Burnley (18th place, 11 pts), meanwhile, is slumping towards 2022. The Clarets may have come into the match smelling blood in the water, but after an early missed chance by Chris Wood, they made too many mistakes. A comeback will be a tough task for a team that struggles to find the back of the net.
Like United, Burnley’s holiday schedule was wrecked by COVID-19 postponements, with three straight matches pushed, meaning it hasn’t played a fixture since a 0-0 draw with West Ham on Dec. 12. United seemed to struggle from rust after its two-match layoff, so with Burnley looking at nearly three weeks without a game, both attacking flow and defensive structure have been problematic for the visitors. That for a club that already hadn’t scored in three straight matches coming into the match today.
Sporting News will be following the match live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Man United vs. Burnley live score
8′ – Manchester United: Scott McTominay
27′ – Manchester United: Own goal (Ben Mee)
35′ – Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo
38′ – Burnley: Aaron Lennon
(All times Eastern)
46th minute: Back under way for the second half. No substitutions for either side, although you have to wonder at what point does Sean Dyche go for fresher legs in an attempt to get back into things, in addition to shoring up some of the defensive issues that presented themselves in the first 45 minutes.
HALFTIME: Manchester United 3-1 Burnley
It was a storming first-half from Manchester United, only pegged back by the consolation from Aaron Lennon. Still, United will feel comfortable at the moment, having held 57% possession and creating 11 chances through the first 45 minutes. Scott McTominay was outstanding in midfield, allowed to maraud forward with Nemanja Matic holding down the #6 spot behind him and Edinson Cavani with the freedom in front to draw defenders. It’s tactical perfection from Rangnick, who may have found something yet.
McTominay outstanding so far today and it just goes to show, his profile is tailormade for these kind of games where he is allowed to advance and compete in the more physical battles and get shots away.
Shackles of possession broken and you see a better player already.
— Ninad Barbadikar (@NinadB_06) December 30, 2021
39th minute: Ronaldo just came VERY close to a fourth for United and his second of the night. A gift on the defensive end by Burnley put Ronaldo through, but Hennessey does well to come off his line and smother the chance.
38th minute: GOAL! Burnley! A loose touch by Eric Bailly gifts an opening for Aaron Lennon, who does well to beat Harry Maguire one-on-one and found the back of the net. It’s the first goal in four games for Burnley, and it’s a glimmer of hope for the visitors at Old Trafford. What a first half.
Aaron Lennon & Cristiano Ronaldo are the only two players to score in the Premier League in both 2005-06 and 2021-22
— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) December 30, 2021
35th minute: GOAL! Manchester United! Cristiano Ronaldo will take credit for the goal, but Scott McTominay did all the hard work. The United midfielder lets rip an absolute MISSILE from just outside the top of the box, and it produces a world-class save from Wayne Hennessey. Unfortunately for the Burnley goalkeeper, Ronaldo was there all alone to tap the rebound into an open net. This is a blitz from United, and Rangnick will be happy with the response after making six changes from the draw at St. James Park.
30th minute: It’s all Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo comes close, but the ball gets stuck at this feet and his effort is blocked. Ronaldo is FURIOUS, but this time only with himself, not a teammate.
Burnley defensive line disconnected. So many clear cut chances for UTd. More goals in this one
— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) December 30, 2021
27th minute: GOAL! Manchester United! Jadon Sancho, what an odd goal. His first Premier League goal at Old Trafford sees the England international cut in from an impossibly tight angle, and somehow despite the presence of no less than four Burnley defenders, he delivered a slow-roller pass Hennessey and into the far corner.
Ben Mee seems to have possibly helped the ball find the back of the net with a very slight touch off his foot, and there’s a chance this could get changed to an own-goal, as the ball might have gone wide without the slight deflection. Either way, Manchester United is in a commanding position 2-0 up, and for now it’s Sancho’s to claim.
UPDATE: This goal was later confirmed to be an own-goal, unfortunately for Jadon Sancho. He will have to wait for his first official Premier League goal at Old Trafford.
Morally that’s Jadon Sancho’s goal. Real purpose when he picked up possession. Has seemed hesitant at times for United but that should give him confidence.
Another good burst by Luke Shaw too. Great weapon when he carries at full speed.#MUFC
— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) December 30, 2021
23rd minute: Slight chance for Burnley as Nemanja Matic commits a silly foul down near the corner flag. Burnley’s set-piece delivery finds the head of Tarkowski but the challenge from De Gea puts him off and Maguire clears.
20th minute: Luke Shaw charges through the attacking half and nobody closes him down, so the left-back lets loose and beats Wayne Hennessey but beats the near post as well.
Great run & shot from Luke Shaw. Just wide. More like it from the #MUFC left-back
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) December 30, 2021
17th minute: Things have seriously settled down since the goal. It appears that Edinson Cavani is occasionally dropping into a midfield like a #10 in a 4-2-3-1, and other times he roams up next to Ronaldo and leaves a space in the middle. Burnley has been quiet since the opener, looking to sit back and deal with Manchester United in the buildup.
8th minute: GOAL! Manchester United! That’s a hysterical goal, because Scott McTominay’s just completely taken the ball off the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo, and he’s scored with it. A ball from Mason Greenwood up to the top of the box went to Ronaldo, but a heavy touch pushing it centrally onto his left created a bit of space between him and the ball. McTominay saw the opening and pounced, firing low into the bottom-right corner. An early opener for the home side in the rain against a defensively stout Burnley side is critical for Ralf Rangnick.
That was Man Utd’s earliest goal in PL this season. Previous best by Greenwood at Leicester.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 30, 2021
5th minute: Oh my. Cristiano Ronaldo. It should be 1-1! Ronaldo is clean through, and if you want anyone in that situation, it’s probably the Portuguese superstar. His right foot sends it high and wide, not even troubling Wayne Hennessey. Wow. How on Earth did he miss that???
Somehow, it’s still 0-0. One massive chance for either side missed.
4th minute: It should be 1-0 Burnley, a warning sign for Manchester United. A wonderful delivery by Matt Lowton – on his 50th appearance for Burnley – found Chris Wood all alone in the penalty area, but his leaping header goes over the bar. The Burnley striker should have done much better, there was nobody remotely close. It looked almost like United played a failed offside trap.
1st minute: We’re under way! It’s pouring rain, as it has been for a few hours. Both teams could badly go for a result here, and that seems to favor Burnley who will just be happy to get a game in as scheduled.
It appears Aaron Lennon, usually a wide player, is playing centrally for Burnley, slotting in behind Chris Wood. Interesting setup we haven’t seen before from Sean Dyche, at least not recently. United, meanwhile, look in a very attacking mood.
Cavani just told Greenwood, who was running inside, to hold his wide position. Greenwood right, then Cavani, Ronaldo and Sancho on left, all high.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 30, 2021
3:13 p.m. ET: Just minutes to kickoff, and the Old Trafford fans are wishing legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson a happy birthday, as he turns 80 tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. Best wishes to an influential figure!
2:58 p.m. ET: Home side is out for final warmups at Old Trafford with 15 minutes until kickoff.
2:31 p.m. ET: Manchester United will hope to have history on its side tonight against Burnley.
9 – Manchester United are unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last nine calendar years (W6 D3) since a 3-2 loss against Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford in 2011. Memories. pic.twitter.com/yyY8HwICmG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 30, 2021
2:15 p.m. ET: Lineups are in. There are a host of surprises for Man United as Ralf Rangnick looks to switch things up. He changes both full-backs, bringing in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, while sitting Raphael Varane for Eric Bailly in the middle. Fred drops to the bench for Nemanja Matic, while Mason Greenwood shifts out wide opposite Jadon Sancho, with Edinson Cavani starting alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s about as wholesale of changes as you’ll see at Manchester United from one league game to another. Rangnick’s not happy.
For Burnley, Wayne Hennessey comes in at goalkeeper for Nick Pope, while it’s Aaron Lennon into the lineup, not Maxwel Cornet who was expected to return but has not. A number of Burnley players are missing due to COVID-19, including Pope, hence the replacement in goal.
❌ Manager Sean Dyche confirms Josh Brownhill, Nick Pope, Jay Rodriguez and Kevin Long miss out tonight, after testing positive for Covid-19.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 30, 2021
1:56 p.m. ET: Weather will be a factor today. It’s currently pouring in Manchester.
1:20 p.m. ET: This is the sort of schtick that Manchester United has been forced to endure since the Newcastle match with all the talk of negative body language and speculation that the players are not taking well to Ralf Rangnick’s late training sessions. We’ll see if it triggers a reaction.
Man United vs. Burnley lineups
Paul Pogba remains out for Manchester United with a thigh problem, but overall the Red Devils are still quite healthy.
Victor Lindelof tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Newcastle match and remains out, while Bruno Fernandes takes a seat for yellow-card accumulation. A game off might do the Portuguese attacker well. Even with Fernandes out, Donny van de Beek only makes the bench, still not a fit in Rangnick’s 4-4-2 system featuring two holding midfielders and no No. 10.
Rangnick has rung a whopping six changes to the starting lineup that sputtered against Newcastle. Nemanja Matic comes off the bench to replace Fred in midfield, while Edinson Cavani is rewarded for his goal against Newcastle with a start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Rangnick changed both full-backs, as Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka come in for Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles, and Eric Bailly makes an appearance at center-back, replacing Raphael Varane.
Man United starting lineup (4-4-2): De Gea (GK) — Shaw, Maguire, Bailly, Wan-Bissaka — Sancho, McTominay, Matic, Greenwood — Ronaldo, Cavani.
Man United subs (9): Henderson (GK), Telles, Dalot, Varane, Fred, Lingard, van de Beek, Elanga, Rashford.
Burnley’s injury list was thought to be eased by the long COVID-19 layoff, but Maxwel Cornet still does not make the squad despite the belief that he would return. Ashley Barnes and Connor Roberts are both still out with long-term issues, the only known absences for the Clarets in this game. Dale Stephens is likely to have shaken off his bout with COVID-19 in time to be available, and he makes the bench.
The biggest question for Burnley boss Sean Dyche was what to do with Jay Rodriguez, and he misses out altogether. The former Southampton man has been a bench option for most of the season, earning only two starts, including the last time out against West Ham. But he’s still without a goal this season. It’s clear regular minutes would continue to help him, but even with Cornet still out, he doesn’t even make the matchday squad. Instead, Aaron Lennon sees the start with Chris Wood the lone striker up top.
Burnley starting lineup (4-5-1 diamond): Hennessey (GK) — Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton — McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson, Lennon — Wood.
Burnley subs (9): Norris, Collins, Bardsley, Pieters, Stephens, Thomas, Vydra.
How to watch Man United vs. Burnley
- Date: Thursday, Dec. 30
- Time: 3:15 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBCSN
- Spanish-language TV: Universo
- Streaming: fuboTV, NBCSports.com (authenticated subscribers)
The match will also stream on NBCSports.com for authenticated subscribers to cable, satellite or telco packages.
Man United-Burnley betting pick & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Both teams have been inconsistent so far this season and it’s tough to say what version of both teams we’ll be getting, especially given the layoffs they have endured of late. For that reason, this would typically be a stay-away game.
What’s certain is that Burnley will be entering Old Trafford thinking defense first, and then hoping to nick a goal on the other end. That tactic hasn’t worked too well for Burnley coach Sean Dyche in 12 career matches against Man United. The Red Devils have scored 18 times in those games, including 10 times in six games at Old Trafford. So while they’ve avoided embarrassing, lopsided results, the Burnley defense has still been regularly breached by United.
For those compelled to make a pick on this game, the under might be the best strategy as both sides continue to work their way to better form.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals (+125)
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Burnley
- Moneyline: Man United -275 / Draw +425 / Burnley +750
- Spread: Man United -1.5 (+110) / Burnley +1.5 (-125)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -155 / Under +125
- Both teams to score: Yes -105 / No -120