While Manchester United might have come under real scrutiny for their display at St. James’ Park earlier in the week, the Reds didn’t miss out on another golden chance on Thursday night.
Knowing that they couldn’t afford another slip-up at Old Trafford, Ralf Rangnick’s men secured a 3-1 victory against relegation scrappers Burnley in their final appearance of 2021.
Managing to find what was a much-welcomed boost after a testing few days for the former Premier League champions, we have taken a look at the main talking points from Thursday’s contest.
United enter the New Year with a flurry
Knowing that they were lucky to have left Newcastle with a 1-1 draw to show for their troubles on Monday night, there is no doubt that Rangnick was calling on an immediate response here.
Having their character questioned by the likes of former United icon Gary Neville following their display at St. James’ Park, the former RB Leipzig boss would have been glad to have had a far more routine contest in midweek.
With Scott Mctominay producing a brilliant side-foot finish from the edge of the box to open the scoring with just eight minutes on the clock, the floodgates quickly opened at Old Trafford.
Marking Thursday’s meeting in Manchester as a golden chance to regain their momentum, United quickly stormed their way to a 3-0 lead as a Ben Mee own goal and Cristiano Ronaldo also found the net just after the half-hour mark.
Although Thursday’s guests might have briefly threatened what would have been a remarkable comeback on the road, it is hard to argue that Rangnick’s side were not a more than worthy winner.
Although tougher tests undoubtedly lie ahead for the former Premier League champions, they should be boosted a routine victory on home soil.
A tough night for depleted Burnley
Last seen way back on December 12th when playing out a 0-0 stalemate against West Ham at Turf Moor, Burnley would have been more than aware that they faced a huge task on their return to action here.
Making the trip to Old Trafford on Thursday night with what was a heavily depleted squad, Sean Dyche’s side were not helped by the news that number one keeper Nick Pope had to sit out after returning a positive COVID-19 test.
Still without the likes of Maxwel Cornet and Jay Rodriguez, the relegation scrappers were also unable to fill the whole of their bench.
However, while the Clarets might have put in their usual rugged approach, even the most hardened Burnley fan would have known that their chance of a miracle was over once Ronaldo bagged United’s third.
Although Aaron Lennon might have bagged what turned into a consolation strike minutes before heading into the half-time break, Dyche will know that there are easier tests down the road.
Asking the former Premier League champions some questions from set-pieces, Dyche simply has to try and brush his side down as they turn their attention to the New Year.
What’s next for both?
Appearing to have put Monday’s 1-1 draw away at Newcastle behind them, Manchester United will now be desperate to find some stability as they enter 2022.
Still yet to taste defeat since bringing Rangnick to Old Trafford last month, Thursday’s 3-1 victory also means that the Reds have found a route back into the top-six with a game still in hand.
Cutting the top-four deficit to four points, United will be next seen on January 3rd when they welcome Wolves to Manchester in what could be another stern test.
As for Burnley, marking their return from an enforced break with what they would have known was a monumental task away from Turf Moor, Dyche’s side don’t have any time to feel sorry for themselves.
Still sat two points adrift in the drop zone, despite holding a trio of games in hand over both Norwich and Newcastle, the Clarets face what is a must-win showdown on Sunday afternoon.
With just a single Premier League victory to their name so far this season, Dyche’s side will be next seen this weekend when they make the trip to fellow strugglers Leeds.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, McTominay, Sancho, Greenwood, Cavani, Ronaldo
Subs: Fred, Dalot, Varane
Burnley: Hennessey, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundson, Lennon, Wood
Subs: Pieters, Stephens, Vydra
Goals: Manchester United: McTominay 8′, Mee (OG) 27′, Ronaldo 35′ – Burnley: Lennon 38′
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Jonathan Moss