Manchester United’s 100% record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought to a halt on Tuesday evening but the result could have been much worse for the Red Devils, who fought back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against Burnley.
Paul Pogba continued his rich vein of form with a goal from the spot but there were suggestions after full-time that the Frenchman may have picked up an injury, despite him completing 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
We round up the injury latest as well as the main Fantasy talking points and salient manager quotes from United’s last-gasp draw.
Manchester United 2-2 Burnley
- Goals: Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelöf | Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood
- Assists: Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez | Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood
Paul Pogba (£8.7m) registered his 11th FPL goal involvement in seven Gameweeks but owners of the game’s second-most-popular midfielder (the Frenchman sits in over 41% of Fantasy squads) face a nervous wait to see if there is any substance in the media reports that suggest he had picked up a groin injury in the 2-2 draw with Burnley last night.
Simon Peach and Jamie Jackson were among the journalists to write that Pogba had limped through the mixed zone after the match, with other reports claiming that the former Juventus midfielder was seen “holding his groin” as he walked down the tunnel at full-time.
The Metro also report that Pogba is set for a scan today.
It should be said that the speculation is purely based on quotes from reporters present at the match, however, with nothing official coming from the club or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as yet.
The interim United boss did offer an explanation as to why Anthony Martial (£7.3m) had missed the visit of the Clarets, however:
He got a slight injury in training, hopefully he will be back for next weekend but no chance today.
Injury aside, Pogba once again racked up some impressive underlying stats despite a much-changed United side not fully hitting their stride.
The France international registered more penalty box touches, attempts on goal, shots in the box and efforts on target than any other player on show at Old Trafford, scoring from the spot after substitute Jesse Lingard (£6.7m) had been felled and then being denied a second goal by a fine Tom Heaton (£4.8m) save late on.
Solskjaer hasn’t been afraid to make changes to a winning United team since his appointment (not keeping the same starting XI for two matches in a row, albeit after having his hand forced in Gameweek 23) but this turned out to be one fixture too far, with his widespread tinkering resulting in a somewhat disjointed display.
Five alterations to the team were made in total, with Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) and Juan Mata (£6.2m) delivering sub-par displays in central midfield and on the right wing respectively.
Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m), so impressive when used on the flank against Arsenal in the FA Cup, was a cumbersome presence in a more central role and his deployment as an out-and-out striker meant that Marcus Rashford (£7.7m) was farmed out to the left – the England striker unsurprisingly delivering his least effective performance since Solskjaer took charge.
Rashford’s purple patch of FPL form thus came to a (hopefully) temporary end, with the United striker poking one glorious chance wide early on and later taking too long to finish after an excellent Pogba pass over the top.
Solskjaer defended his decision to play Lukaku as a central striker after the match:
Rom has done really well against Burnley before. He has scored and he is a handful. With Anthony injured, we thought that was the best option with Rashy out there. Of course, he got a couple of chances but today wasn’t his day.
The feeling that United missed the dynamism and link-up play of Lingard was evidenced after his game-changing introduction on 63 minutes, while the importance of the bustling Ander Herrera (£5.0m) in the central midfield three was underscored by Pereira’s disappointing display in his stead.
Pereira, indeed, was culpable for Burnley’s opening goal: the youngster being dispossessed by Jack Cork (£4.6m), who fed Ashley Barnes (£5.6m) to hammer the Clarets into a 1-0 lead.
Unsurprisingly, Solskjaer defended Pereira’s inclusion too:
No, it was the right decision to make. We had a couple of niggles and unfortunately he [Pereira] was involved in the first goal but that’s the whole team.
We played our way into trouble there instead of starting off with the forward pass we ended up back to the keeper and it’s just another thing we have to learn from.
Andreas will be better off for having this experience, no problem about that.
The hope for those who own Fantasy assets of Manchester United is that Solskjaer has perhaps learned a lesson about making widespread changes to his starting XI, particularly when a few of those concerned – i.e. Lingard and Herrera; Rashford in a central role – made the team tick in the first place.
United’s defence wasn’t overly tested by a Burnley side who mustered only six shots on goal but they were suspect whenever the Clarets did break, with Chris Wood (£6.2m) finding himself unmarked to nod home Ashley Westwood‘s (£4.5m) cross on 81 minutes.
Victor Lindelof (£4.9m), who bundled home the stoppage-time equaliser, was again the stand-out member of the United backline, with Phil Jones (£5.1m) continuing to look shaky alongside him.
While Burnley were indebted to some fine saves from Heaton, which included a superb re-adjustment from a Lukaku flick, they fully merited their point at Old Trafford.
We had highlighted last week how Sean Dyche’s side had look much-improved after their early-season struggles and that encouraging progress continued here, with Wood and Barnes posing plenty of problems in what has become a regular strike partnership in Dyche’s now-familiar 4-4-2.
This was Barnes’ tenth straight Premier League start and he has been joined by Wood in the starting XI in eight of them.
Continuity has been key in Burnley’s resurgence and Dyche named the same team that lined up in Gameweek 23, with the fit-again Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) being held back on the bench.
Ben Mee (£4.6m) and James Tarkowski (£4.7m) are something approaching back to their best after a dip in form at the start of the campaign, which perhaps bodes well for clean sheets ahead given that the Clarets sit second in our Season Ticker for defence over the next five Gameweeks.
Dyche rhapsodised afterwards:
In the first half, particularly, a lot of our forward play was very good and the two centre-forwards were excellent, particularly in the first 60 minutes.
Behind them, I can’t really fault anyone. Some people question Jeff (Hendrick), but he plays all over the place and gets on with it every single time, without question. He accepts the role, drives on and delivers.
Dwight (McNeil) was good again and Westy and Corky are beginning to get that connection again.
The back four were resolute and strong and Tom, behind that, showed assuredness.
We have been building back towards what we can be. I think everyone can see that.
Suddenly, we are five unbeaten and very close to being five wins, not just three wins and two draws. A couple of decisions and who knows?
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Pereira (Lingard 62′) Pogba; Mata, Lukaku (Sanchez 67′), Rashford.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, McNeil (Gudmundsson 76′); Barnes, Wood.