Manchester United moved to within one point of local rivals Manchester City ahead of what will be a colossal meeting of the two clubs on Thursday night. It was a convincing victory for Jose Mourinho’s men as they beat Burnley by a 2-0 scoreline at Turf Moor.
The Clarets are difficult to beat at home and this result underlines the progress that the Red Devils are making. They have now won their last three league matches and are building real momentum ahead of what is going to be a crucial run of games that will shape the club’s short-term future.
Here are three things that we learnt from the Red Devils’ victory on Sunday…
Anthony Martial is prepared to fight for his place at Old Trafford
The Frenchman has faced a lot of criticism from Jose Mourinho this season and it led to many United fans fearing for the forward’s future at the club. This was only his second league start since the beginning of March, but he repaid the faith shown by his manager and delivered one of his best performances of the season.
Martial contributed with a goal and an assist during the match, clinching what could be a huge three points for United. His opening stike displayed his best attributes as he played a one-two with Ander Herrera, using his pace to get in behind the Burnley defence, before slotting into the net.
His talent in the final third was never doubted, but his application and work rate has been. Mourinho has always wanted his attacking players to put a shift in for the team and work hard when the opposition team have the ball.
This is something that Martial isn’t known for, but he ran all afternoon for his team and even managed to complete one tackle.
Although the attacking contribution was the reason his side won the game, it will be his work rate and desire that will have impressed his manager most of all. If he continues to play like this, he will have a huge part to play at Manchester United.
Burnley have a big summer ahead of them
Although there are probably too few matches for them to be in any real threat of relegation, they have gone off the pace in recent weeks and that will be a concern for Sean Dyche. They have now won only won once in their last eleven Premier League matches and they continue to slip down the table.
The Clarets’ home record has been very good this season, but their lack of points on the road are now beginning to haunt them as they have had a difficult run of games at Turf Moor.
If they do stay up as expected, this summer is going to be huge for Dyche and Burnley. They lack quality in key areas of the pitch and hard work can’t keep them in this division forever.
Michael Keane is likely to be on his way out of the club as several big clubs are interested in the centre back and that will severely weaken the Clarets.
If they want to establish themselves as a Premier League club, they need to increase the talent level at the club and work on a few different ways to play, as they are quickly becoming predictable in this league.
Manchester United could be more dangerous without Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the side
This is a controversial point as Ibrahimovic has been superb for Manchester United this season and remains a world class player. However, he may not suit the team that is being built by Jose Mourinho.
In their last two league matches, United have played with dynamism, pace and power, causing all sorts of problems for the opposition.
Marcus Rashford was the star last weekend, while Anthony Martial took the headlines against Burnley. They are both capable of leading the line and are the future of the club.
At times, United are predictable with Ibrahimovic in the side and laboured in their build-up play, allowing the opposition to organise themselves in a solid defensive shape. The injury to the Swede could be a blessing in disguise as they can now play a style that better suits the rest of the team.
It will be interesting in the summer to see what the future holds for Ibrahimovic, especially after the news regarding his injury. He has had a good year in Manchester, but it could be the right move for the club to let him leave in the summer.
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