Manchester United produced arguably their best performance since the Ralf Rangnick era in the compelling 3-1 win over Burnley – the final game at Old Trafford for 2021.
The Red Devils scored thrice in the first 35 minutes, sealing an important win that was filled with a lot of action.
It was a really end-to-end game and here is a complete breaks down of the game.
Rangnick made 6 changes to the team that drew to Newcastle United and shuffled his side for the Burnley clash. He gave first PL starts under him to Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, while Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho were introduced to the attack.
The German gaffer stuck with the 4-2-2-2 formation, but with a slight twist. The two players behind the strikers operated in wider areas, stretching the Burnley backline and helping the full-backs overlap.
United started the game in promising fashion, taking an early lead in the 9th minute through Scott McTominay. They maintained positive energy throughout the first half after that and doubled their lead when Sancho’s attempt was tucked in for a Ben Mee own goal in the 26th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo then scored a tap-in in the 35th minute to basically put the game to bed. Aaron Lennon’s strike minutes after that only proved a meager consolation. United produced a quick, high-octane attacking style all game long.
They prioritized moving the ball through the wide areas, as seen here that 39% of the attacks were down the left flank and 38% down the right.
The majority of the game was played in midfield, with the Red Devils dominating superior possession. The link-up play between the players was impressive, with players relying on quick passes to create a lot of chances.
United also created a number of opportunities in the second half, but Burnley goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey made some great saves. For the majority, Rangnick’s attack-minded tactics were executed well and helped produce a bright performance for the Old Trafford faithful.
Tactics score – 7.5/10
Because of United’s dominance in the first half-hour or so, the defensive work was limited. But the pressure started to rise after the Red Devils took a 3-0 win. Eric Bailly, flown in from AFCON duties to start this, was sharp at the back but gave the ball away to Lennon for his strike.
Harry Maguire was poor again, failing to stop Lennon from shooting for his goal. He lost key duels at the back, landing his side in some problematic situations in the second half.
David de Gea made some nice saves to ensure United’s two-goal lead was preserved until the end. Wan-Bissaka and Shaw were lively down respective wings, with the latter rediscovering last season’s form in this one.
Nemanja Matic did well to shield in his ‘quarter-back role’, while the wingers also tracked back to nullify the threat of Burnley’s overlapping full-backs. United were still a bit shaky defensively but did just enough to see off the win.
Defence score – 5.5/10
The Red Devils were relentless from the get-go and were determined to put the game to bed early on. McTominay had his shooting boots on, managing a 100% shot accuracy with his 4 attempts on target.
The Scotsman opened the scoring with his first goal of the season, a well-taken strike from the outside of the box. He also basically laid Ronaldo’s goal on a plate for him, with his shot rebounding off the bar for the Portuguese to score.
After their first-half blitz, United were a bit sloppy with their finishing in the second half. They ended the game with 18 attempted shots, with only 6 being on target. Ronaldo himself could’ve scored more if bit more ruthless with his finishing.
Finishing score: 6.5/10
The United players were under a lot of pressure coming into the game. With reports of their poor attitude in training or inability to adapt to Rangnick’s methods, the players needed to produce something positive to win back the support of the fans.
They showed the hunger, desire which was so horribly lacking against Newcastle. With a loud Old Trafford spurring them on, the Red Devils put Burnley on the back-foot from the get-go and launched some quick, innovative attacking moves.
McTominay led from the front, barging through midfield to get into promising areas to shoot or set up some nice chances. Shaw and Wan-Bissaka were persistent with their forward runs while Sancho and Mason Greenwood also thrived in their free roles.
United were adamant to end the year on a high note. They did so by producing some exciting attacking football and proving they can excel under Rangnick’s system.
Team Spirit score: 7/10
Overall score: 7/10