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Man United looks for improvement against Burnley

AP/AFP – Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick might be tempted to make some changes against Burnley in the Premier League after a poor performance by his team in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Monday, when he complained about a lack of energy and physicality from his players.

Some of that might be down to rustiness after United had back-to-back matches – against Brentford and Brighton – called off because of a coronavirus outbreak in the squad. That’s something Burnley might be wary of because its period of inactivity has been even longer, with three straight games postponed following virus outbreaks in opponents’ squads. Its last match was a 0-0 draw against West Ham on December 12.

Edinson Cavani (AP; pic below) in particular, is pushing for a recall for United after scoring off the bench against Newcastle. United-Burnley is the only match being played after Everton-Newcastle was postponed because Newcastle had too many players out with either injuries or COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Manchanter United Centre-back Harry Maguire said a 16-day coronavirus break had done the team no favours after they salvaged a 1-1 draw at Premier League strugglers Newcastle, leaving them seven points off the top four.

Ralf Rangnick’s men needed a 71st-minute equaliser from half-time substitute Edinson Cavani after Allan Saint-Maximin scored a superb early opener, and were indebted to David de Gea for a series of fine saves.

It was United’s first match since December 11 after a Covid-19 outbreak forced them to close their training complex. Victor Lindelof was absent from St James’ Park after testing positive.

“No 16-day break in the middle of a football season is going to help you,” Maguire told Manchester United’s official website.

“The training ground has been shut and half the lads playing today are recovering from the virus, so of course it’s not going to help us.

“We’ve had people with symptoms, people without symptoms – it’s been a real mixed bag for everyone at the football club and it’s been a tough time”

But the England international defender zaid United could not make excuses for their
sloppy performance.

“We’ve got to stay on the ball, we’ve got to stay active and we’ve got to play the ball in their half and we didn’t manage to do that.

“You can look at that and ask whether the last 16 days had a big impact on that because it looked like we ran out of steam out there.

“A point in the end is a fair result, but it’s a result that we’re disappointed with.”

The draw means United are seven points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with two games in hand ahead of the clash with Burnley at Old Trafford, but Maguire said they would be better after their tough evening at Newcastle.

“I’m sure 90 minutes will have benefitted every single player out there,” he said.

“The Burnley game and the Wolves game are coming up thick and fast and we’ve got to play better than we have done tonight.”