Burnley vs. Manchester United: How the Red Devils Will Line Up in Premier League

Paul AnsorgeFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2014

Manchester United's new player Angel Di Maria, right, and manager Louis van Gaal, pose for photographers, at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Manchester United have signed winger Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £59.7m. The Argentine winger had a medical in Manchester on Tuesday and has signed a five-year deal. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Burnley vs. Manchester United sees Louis van Gaal get a chance to play a more familiar line-up than the one that was so heavily defeated by MK Dons in midweek. 

Unfortunately for the Dutchman, United are still suffering from a slate of injuries.


Van Gaal confirms Herrera remains injured & Rojo is still waiting on his work permit. "We have 10 injuries... one more than last week."

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 28, 2014


With Luke Shaw also presumably still among those injured, there will at least be a chance for Van Gaal to deploy one new signing, assuming Angel Di Maria's paperwork is more straightforward than Marcos Rojo's.

After the arrival of Di Maria, there has been some speculation about United's formation. I looked at the tactical options afforded to Van Gaal earlier in the week, and it will be intriguing to see whether tactical changes are made straight away.


BREAKING: Angel Di Maria will wear the no.7 shirt at #mufc. https://t.co/kz6nr4lDp3

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 28, 2014


With or without United's new No. 7, Burnley away will be another tricky tie for the Red Devils. Burnley may have lost their opening two games, but they have not looked overawed, and United's confidence will presumably be dented by their early season struggles.

Given all the injuries facing the club, it is hard to pick an XI in which fans could have great confidence.

Van Gaal's challenges begin in defence. Assuming he sticks with a back three, then Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and either Tyler Blackett or Michael Keane appear the likely starters, assuming Chris Smalling is still injured.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Jozy Altidore of Sunderland is challenged by Michael Keane of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on August 24, 2014 in Sunderland, Engla
Michael Regan/Getty Images

In truth, Keane and Blackett were both among United's best players against Sunderland last weekend, so either would be unlucky to lose their place to Evans.

However, in spite of Evans' error which gifted MK Dons their first goal in midweek, his seniority and experience should benefit United's defence.

Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young will presumably retain their places at wing-back, unless Van Gaal chooses to deploy Di Maria on the left. Young has been unable to bring his excellent pre-season form into the season, and so few would mourn his absence from the starting XI, but Di Maria's defensive abilities are not his strong suit.

Van Gaal might also wish to consider using Di Maria in the heart of midfield. Although playing as one of a midfield two will certainly not get the best out of the Argentinian, it may be a better option for United than the current alternatives.

With Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick injured and Arturo Vidal somehow still a Juventus player, despite further rumours of the club's attempts to capture his signature, as per the Mirror, United's midfield options are lacking. If reports that Tom Cleverley is set to leave the club, for example this one from John Percy in The Telegraph, are correct, it would be a surprise to see him turn out for United this weekend. 

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Darren Fletcher and Juan Mata (L) of Manchester United confront referee Martin Atkinson after he booked team mate Ashley Young during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Darren Fletcher will surely start, although like Young he has struggled to continue his fine pre-season form in competitive games.

There is an outside chance Anderson will start, although given that he played poorly against a team from the third tier on Tuesday, Van Gaal will almost certainly look for other options.

The second half against Sunderland saw the unexpected sight of Adnan Januzaj playing in the centre of midfield. When taking into account how stretched United's resources are, he could reprise that role for at least part of this game.

Up front the trio of Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will presumably be tried again. An injection of pace will be needed in order to make those three more effective, hence considering the choice of Januzaj or Di Maria in midfield.

My guess at the starting XI is below. Please do feel free to share yours in the comments.

David de Gea, Valencia, Jones, Evans, Blackett, Young, Di Maria, Fletcher, Mata, Rooney, Van Persie.

Manchester United - Football tactics and formations