Aston Villa return to action on Monday when they travel to Manchester United for an FA Cup third round clash at Old Trafford.
Both sides are expected to make a raft of changes as the Premier League takes a break after a hectic fixture schedule and coronavirus outbreaks caused havoc over the Christmas period.
The two teams happen to meet the weekend after in the Premier League at Villa Park and there is likely to be one eye on that game too.
United, meanwhile, may make changes but interim manager Ralf Rangnick is under pressure even at this early stage of his career following the 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this week.
Rangnick will be keen to avoid another loss at Old Trafford with Villa already notching up a win at United this season.
He could bring back captain Harry Maguire into the starting line-up who, like his centre-back partner Victor Lindelof, missed Wolves.
Maguire missed the game with a chest injury picked up against Burnley last week with Raphael Varane and Phil Jones stepping in because of Lindelof’s absence and Eric Bailly missing out.
Rangnick could therefore be without Lindelof, Maguire, Bailly and Paul Pogba, who is out injured with a thigh injury and will miss Villa.
Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are suspended for the Premier League game meaning they will likely play in the FA Cup clash with Villa.
“Victor was still positive, so it was clear since yesterday morning that he would be out and Harry, he received that knock on his chest or whatever, in the game against Burnley so we thought he would be good again for tonight,” Rangnick said.
“But, yesterday, he was just trying and it was impossible. He even had too much pain when he was just standing around or sitting. It wasn’t possible for him to play.”
Fred’s strike is United’s Goal of the Month
Fred has deservedly won Manchester United’s Goal of the Month award for December 2021.
The Brazilian midfielder curled home a delightful effort from the edge of the area, to give the Reds a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, in what was Ralf Rangnick’s first game as interim manager.
Our no.17 hasn’t been the most regular of scorers since signing from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2018, with that strike at the beginning of the month taking him to six in a red shirt, from 140 appearances so far.
As the man himself noted after the game, it was also a rare goal with his weaker foot.
“It’s always good to score in a game, but today we win 1-0 and it’s nice that my goal can be so important,” Fred told MUTV’s Stewart Gardner, in a post-match interview he conducted in English.
“With me being left-footed, sometimes I try with my right. Mason gave me a good ball and, in that moment, I just looked for the goal and it happened. I’m very blessed.”
Fred received 31 per cent of the vote from supporters in our poll, with team-mate Mason Greenwood second on 21 per cent, for his acrobatic effort against Young Boys in the Champions League.
Another long-range strike – Scott McTominay’s opener versus Burnley in last week’s 3-1 win – took third place.
While David De Gea was named Player of the Month once more, following on from Cristiano Ronaldo’s September-October double, we have now had five different winners in the Goal of the Month category for 2021/22.
Star out – Man Utd’s strongest possible 4-2-2-2 XI vs Burnley
Manchester United are 7 points behind Arsenal, who currently occupy the last Champions League qualification spot, and the Red Devils do have a couple of games in hand.
Tonight, Ralf Rangnick’s men will collide against Burnley hoping to return to winning ways. Who will come out on top?
As far as the team news is concerned, star playmaker, Bruno Fernandes, is out due to suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign against the Magpies.
To replace the Portuguese international in the lineup, we can expect summer signing Jadon Sancho to return and partner Marcos Rashford in the attacking midfield.
Cavani found the net vs Newcastle United in the last game and the Uruguayan superstar should replace Mason Greenwood to start with Cristiano Ronaldo up front.
The likes of Fred and McTominay should start again in the center of the park. On the other hand, the back-line would likely remain unchanged in front of in form shot stopper, David De Gea.
Here is Man Utd’s strongest possible 4-2-2-2 XI vs Burnley:
Michael Owen agrees with another pundit in Manchester United vs Burnley prediction
Michael Owen expects Manchester United to deliver a response when they take on Burnley at Old Trafford.
After waiting 16 days to return to Premier League duty, Ralf Rangnick was left with plenty to ponder when United laboured to a 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Newcastle on Monday night.
Ready for a quick turnaround, how will they fare when they get down to business with another team battling the drop this season?
United are set to be without Victor Lindelof (Covid-19) and Portuguese sensation Bruno Fernandes (suspension) for the Burnley game, while longer-term absentee Paul Pogba (thigh) has yet to return to first-team training.
Mark Lawrenson – BBC Sport
During his latest BBC Sport column, the former Liverpool player said: “Burnley’s biggest problem is that they have stopped scoring. They have managed only one goal in their past three games and have managed only 14 in total so far this season.
“Manchester United’s issue under previous manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was that they conceded too easily, but it appears Ralf Rangnick has put that right – and I don’t see the Clarets giving them many scares.”
Score prediction: United 3-0 Burnley
Michael Owen – BetVictor
Speaking to BetVictor after the Newcastle match, Owen said: “I expected more from United against Newcastle. Considering they had two weeks off, it was a disappointing showing. If they play like that, there’s no way they will get in the top four. I’d expect a response here at Old Trafford.
“I’m sure Sean Dyche will be looking to get some new faces in the club in January, particularly as they’ve now got some games in hand. They’ll go to Old Trafford and try frustrate United, keep the game as tight as possible. I worry about the lack of quality in this side, though.
“I can’t see United destroying Burnley; Burnley are too organised for that. I do think they’ll get the win, though.”
Score prediction: United 2-1 Burnley
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