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Post Match Analysis: Burnley vs Manchester United

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Post Match Analysis: A detailed analysis on how Manchester United performed against Burnley as they move top of the Premier League table.

Paul Pogba’s second-half goal at Burnley yesterday earned Manchester United the three points by which they now lead the Premier League standings, before the game against Liverpool who are 3 points behind them with the same amount of games.

It has been a quite complicated game for Man United, only getting 1.2 xG [expected goal] throughout the game while Burnley had 0.8 xG according to Fbref. The Red Devils didn’t create much in the first 30 minutes and could’ve been 1-0 down if Burnley showed a bit more will in the final third.

FOOTBALL TERMSTactical approaches and theoretical concepts in football

Manchester United Formation

Manchester United started in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation that quickly moved into their usual 3-2-5 / 3-1-6 organization when they had the ball. Matic either dropped on the left or in the middle of the back 3 and Pogba sometimes dropped on the right of the back 3.

Manchester United Starting IX vs BurnleyPogba’s positioning on the right of the back 3 gave him an immediate access to the right half-space and especially to Bruno Fernandes higher up the pitch. With Rashford taking position wide right, Bruno has enough space to ask for the ball in the half-space.

Post Match Analysis: Burnley vs Manchester United On the left, Martial was able to stay inside as well thanks to Shaw’s wide positioning, which facilitated the access to Martial from Matic when the latter was receiving on the left of the back 3

Post Match Analysis: Burnley vs Manchester United Let me expand on both points by taking Pogba’s example. Burnley were defending in a 4-4-2, which means that if you move the ball quickly enough, you can have an immediate access to your teammate in the same half space as you because the opponent couldn’t restrict space in time.


As I’ve said previously, Manchester United lacked control in the first 25 minutes because they couldn’t sustain pressure in Burnley’s half. Their best chances came from a recovery in the opponent’s half and a Burnley player could’ve been sent off if Shaw didn’t make a foul on the counter.

Manchester United’s lack of control vs Burnley came from two main points that I shall explain below.

Firstly, Manchester United lacked movements to make the opponent come deeper. Aaron Wan-Bissaka should have asked for the ball into space but stood there instead. In the second still, nobody stretches vertically.

A rare occurrence of both rotations and movements into depth when Manchester United are already in the opponent’s half was Martial’s run in the vacated space, which allowed Shaw to drive into space inside. Man United were able to keep the ball for longer than usual in the first half.

However, it changed in the second half and Manchester United players were finally performing rotations but were also asking for the ball beyond Burnley’s last line. By fielding 5 attack-minded players, United matched Burnley’s 4 defenders on the last line.

The rotations I’m talking about helped United players finally finding crossing situations from which they were dangerous as their 5 attack-minded players were attacking the box. You can see Bruno’s cross being directed into the box where there were 4 Manchester United players.

Manchester United performed a lot of crosses from the left half-space and they have generally made more crosses lately (15 crosses per game, 21 last night and 19 in average over the last 3 Premier League games where they used this same organization).

Manchester United’s Game Changing Rotation

Finally, let’s talk about the rotations Man United performed, especially on the right side, from where the goal came. Aaron Wan-Bissaka finally made a run into depth, which helped Bruno came short, freeing up space for Martial into the box. Finally, United sustained pressure and were dangerous.

This is something Man United should look to do more often in this setup as they could find cutback from a Rashford or an Aaron Wan-Bissaka wide run. This would be especially deadly as there are more players into the box in that setup, as I said earlier.

Why do I say that? Let’s take the goal Manchester United scored.

It came from a Rashford cross. Their positioning gave Pogba the time to take a shot because Burnley’s defenders were attracted by their forwards.

Post Match Analysis: Burnley vs Manchester United In the first 35 minutes of the second half, Man United were pretty convincing but they fell off in the last 10, which showed again their inconsistency already highlighted by the first half. They deserved to win but it could’ve been harder if Burnley were better in the final third.

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Deco January 14, 2021 at 6:39 pm


Doctor January 14, 2021 at 6:47 pm

Pogba saved the day. Let’s look forward to the next game against a giant Liverpool.


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