Manchester United failed to secure their first win of the Premier League season with newly promoted Burnley securing an unlikely 0-0 draw against Louis Van Gaal’s side. We reflect on the major talking points from the game.
1. Burnley deserved their point.
Sean Dyche deserves a lot of credit for setting up his Burnley side as a well organized and cohesive unit. Burnley played with energy and defensive solidity to unsettle United who failed to use the ball effectively. Their midfield struggled to get into the game and this forced United to play long balls up to Rooney and Van Persie, which ultimately played into Burnley’s hands.
Manchester United played more than 20% of their passes long (over 35 yards) in the first half and such a direct approach saw Louis van Gaal’s side struggle for fluidity. However Burnley’s work rate was impressive and it is clear to see that they have worked hard on physical conditioning and they deserved to earn their first pint of this seasons campaign.
2. Di Maria shows glimpses of what he can offer
Angel Di Maria was arguably United’s most impressive performer on the day. Showing glimpses of his passing range early on delivering a magnificent 30 yard pass for Robin Van Persie who failed to score as Burnley keeper Tom Heaton pulled off an impressive save.
The Argentine drifted to the left wing at times and looked united’s most influential player in the first half. It was an encouraging display but a lack of games caught up with the former Real Madrid player who was replaced around the 70 minute mark as he seemed to be suffering from cramp.
There were also a couple of penetrating runs by the Argentine which is encouraging to see as this may give Louis van Gaal’s side a greater ability to counter attack.
3. Manchester United midfield struggle to control the game
Manchester United struggled in midfield and could not get on the ball as Burnley congested the middle of the park with their work rate and energy impressive. However Mata and Fletcher struggled to receive the ball from the centre halves thus forcing United to play a more direct game.
Tyler Blackett and Jonny Evans played a number of long balls up to Rooney and van Persie and while at times both players looked to create an opportunity United failed to pick up the second balls. Fletcher struggled to play the classic number six midfield role receiving the ball and orchestrating attacks. This is not perhaps the a strength of the Scottish international and Daley Blind could now be considered in this position.
Mata struggled to influence the game in what was a tepid display by the Spaniard. A lack of control in the midfield was evident and Mata is perhaps a classic number 10 and not necessarily a deep lying midfield player. It was a game where United struggled to control the tempo of proceedings.
4. Ashley Young & Antonio Valencia disappoint
Ashley Young looked defensively vulnerable at times against Burnley and the wing back role does not seem to suit both players as without the aid of Rafael and Patrice Evra last season it has seen Young and Valencia expected to beat their man one on one.
Valencia at times promised to add some penetration for Manchester United but the Ecuadorian’s delivery flattered to deceive at times.
Valencia does however seem more suited to a wing back role as he looks to be more defensively sound. However Ashley Young looks to be playing out of position and not the exciting winger that played for Aston Villa a number of year’s ago.
5. The 3-5-2 formation is dependent on the form of Rooney and van Persie.
Van Gaal has made it clear that he is using a 3-5-2 formation so that he can use two central strikers and this looks to be dependent on the form of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. If they deliver and score the goals Van Gaal will continue to use this formation.
Arjen Robben and Van Persie impressed for the Netherlands at the World Cup and so far Rooney and van Persie have failed to hit their best form.
It is perhaps understandable for the Dutch striker as he is recovering from injury however new Manchester united captain Wayne Rooney did not have his most productive game against Burnley and if both of United’s strikers are not performing Van Gaal may opt to change his formation.
Dan Dalton, Pundit Arena.