Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal needs a win and fast. His brave new world at Old Trafford has begun in alarmingly poor fashion. Defeat to Swansea City and a draw with Sunderland is a far from ideal way to start the new Premier League season.
As if those results weren't bad enough, Van Gaal's United suffered the indignity of losing 4-0 to League One side MK Dons in the Capital One Cup. The Red Devils desperately need a spark and will hope new £59.7 million signing Angel Di Maria can provide one.
However, as much as Van Gaal needs a win, Burnley boss Sean Dyche will be equally craving some points. His Clarets team have yet to earn any in two Premier League outings.
As strange as it sounds, the visit of an in-flux United could actually be cause for optimism for Dyche and his players at Turf Moor. Before delving into a preview, here's the full schedule information:
|Saturday, August 30||12.45 p.m. BST / 7.45 a.m. ET||BT Sport 1 / NBCSN||NBC Sports Live Extra / BT Sport App|
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Will Di Maria's Arrival Mean a New Formation?
Since Di Maria was unveiled, speculation has rightly turned to how he can best be used at United. It's an issue tackled by Manchester Evening News reporter Rob Dawson. He settled on a position in a 4-3-3 as the best potential fit for Di Maria:
Playing in a 4-3-3 seems a more natural fit for a player like Di Maria.
And it’s a system Van Gaal knows well, having grown up in Holland and managed both Ajax and Barcelona.
Van Persie is the obvious choice to play a central striker with Rooney on one side and Di Maria on the other. Mata could also play behind Van Persie.
While Dawson wisely pointed out the potential problems for Rooney on the flanks, he might not be wide of the mark, at least in terms of a formation change.
Van Gaal hinted at one when describing Di Maria's inevitable adaptation period with his new team, per Daily Express writer James Dickenson:
You cannot switch to another system and it works like that.
You have to train it, it's a matter of time because the process needs time so we shall see if with Di Maria we have to change the system or not.
One thing that is clear is that Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formula certainly hasn't created early success. However, it should be noted just how big a change three at the back represents for the Red Devils.
It was not the formation of choice during the nearly three decades Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge. David Moyes never used it last season.
The squad Van Gaal inherited is not well-versed in the formation he currently favours and is having to learn it from scratch. That's a tough ask for any team.
Will Van Gaal get things right at United?
That's the kind of thing Van Gaal hinted at when he called for time to get his United rebuild right, according to Sky Sports. However, the key to Van Gaal's reclamation project could really lie in his ability to get attackers such as Di Maria, Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata on the field together.
That's a tough ask but something Van Gaal has to get right. That quartet can quickly turn around United's form. If those four players share time at Turf Moor, Burnley will struggle to cope.
Dyche Has to Get the Defence Right
Stemming the tide is a problem Dyche has to try to solve. His team was wide open during a 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea to begin the season.
However, there was noticeably greater solidity in the 1-0 away loss to Swansea City. Dyche has to find a way to close off spaces and be more stable defensively, without losing Burnley's ability to play pass-and-move football and create chances.
The solution could come in the form of new signings. Dyche believes he might even be able to unveil a new face before the United game, per Lancashire Telegraph reporter Suzanne Geldard:
Southampton centre half Jos Hooiveld is the latest to be linked with a move to Turf Moor, although sources close to St Mary’s believe any departures would be unlikely until sufficient cover was brought in first, even though the 31-year-old is behind Jose Fonte, Florin Gardos and Maya Yoshida in the pecking order and is out of contract next summer.
Additional resources at the back, especially those with Premier League experience, albeit limited, could prove invaluable for Burnley's bid to beat the drop.
Will Burnley avoid relegation?
That bid might not receive any help when Dyche's team hosts United. Van Gaal's new era may have had a dire start, but Di Maria's arrival and some squad trimming will raise the spirits of key players.
A single-goal win, either 2-1 or 3-2, should start building some positive momentum for the Dutchman.