United adopted 4-3-3 approach throughout. Burnley 4-2-3-1. Fellaini was positioned at base of midfield, Herrera right, Pogba left in higher areas. Martial played through the middle, Rooney left and Lingard right.

United's starting shape; personnel changed later in the game but the shape did not

United’s starting shape; personnel changed later in the game but the shape did not

The game was tight in early stages with Burnley pressing high. United’s first goal was a breakaway with Pogba holding off Barton and releasing Martial who fed Lingard before centering for Martial to score. United beat Burnley press before exposing them out of shape. United’s opening goal came in the 21st minute.

The second goal was scrambled in at close range after good running into the left space and shot by Martial was saved. Rooney scored United’s second in the 39th minute.

United were in full control thereafter and perhaps should have scored more on the break after the introduction of Rashford in middle of second half. United didn’t always use ball well on the break, usually choosing the wrong option or moving ball forward too slowly.

Burnely’s pressing dropped off after United’s second goal and deteriorated further as game wore on. Did they run out of steam late in the game?


The main features of the game were:

  • The running of Martial, who lead line well, sometimes coming short before turning to run at or behind Burnley to stretch game.
  • The excellence of Pogba in midfield. He was strong showing the ability to hold up the ball and make time and space for himself and others. He was often outnumbered but tied several players up with his strength movement and vision. Un-hurried.
  • The tireless work of Herrera both in defence and then in working ball away from defensive areas when United won ball.

There were a number of issues however:

  • United’s play in the final third when they often made the wrong choice or did not combine well in and around edge of Burnley final third.
  • Fellaini struggled in front of the defence in the first half and gave away a lot of fouls. He did much better after United had scored the second at which point United were effectively in control.
  • Burnley were very ordinary and only ever looked dangerous from set-pieces, (which they are good at being strong in the air).