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As this week has shown, if you’ve had your games cancelled – even if you’re up against a team who are turning over games in quick succession – you’re at a severe disadvantage. Burnley’s last Premier League game was on December 12 and let me tell you – there’s no mid-season training regime that prepares bodies for that.
Sean Dyche’s charges know full well that they’ll be up against it, and away to Man United will actually feel like more a pre-season game than it will a competitive fixture. You’d be foolish not to pay attention to the match trends around you in what is an unprecedented schedule clash.
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Manchester United v Burnley – Thursday December 20: 8.15pm
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The first 20 minutes of this game will be an elongated warm-up for Burnley – a side who generally start slow to begin with – and who’ll now be moving muscles that haven’t been moved in the bones of three weeks.
If United aren’t leading at the break given Ralf Rangnick’s longing for pressing centre-halves high, I’ll be stunned. There’s going to be countless errors in these first 45 minutes.
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Manchester United’s biggest weakness is not acting upon dominant spells in games. I’ve made the case for them finding the net in this, which I believe, alone, could cover this leg. But, there’s also an element of not being able to trust them to switch on when they’re ahead. Burnley could easily nick a goal while Harry Maguire is dreaming of his colouring book.
Rust produces lazy tackles and while that’s not always a guarantee for this kind of bet, what is, is the number of bad fouls that are getting a lot of attention lately. Harry Kane from last week and Joel Matip on Tuesday. Expect there to be a clamping down in a match where tempers could easily dictate, especially if it’s not in the balance after an hour.
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