Burnley-Manchester United Preview
Amongst a crowded group chasing the team atop the Premier League table, Manchester United understand they can't leave many more points on the pitch moving forward.
Having settled for a draw in their most recent match, United look for a better result against a Burnley side that's trying to steer clear of the relegation zone Wednesday night at Old Trafford.
As Chelsea continue to set the pace in the league, Man United (12-8-4) join Manchester City, Southampton, Spurs and Arsenal in an order of squads trying to catch the leaders while looking to earn a spot in Champions League play.
Manager Louis van Gaal said nothing less than a victory Sunday at West Ham United would suffice, but after his Red Devils overcame a poor first half to earn a 1-1 draw on Daley Blind's equaliser in extra time, he knew they were fortunate with the final outcome.
"I think we played very badly in the first half and we showed a lot of spirit in the second half, especially after the (West Ham) goal (in the 49th minute)," Van Gaal told the club's official website. "We gave that goal away I think. Then we played football, but you have to do it from the first minute.
"I have to say what a spirit my team showed after falling 1-0 behind. I have thanked my players for that."
Though United have earned seven of nine points over the last three league matches, Blind knows the effort needs to be better in order to regain their winning form.
"We created a lot of chances that we could score from, but we didn't score," Blind said. "In the end, you could be happy with 1-1, but we aren't. We deserved more from the game."
Man United certainly weren't pleased with a scoreless draw at Burnley (4-9-11) on Aug. 30, part of the Red Devils' forgetful 0-2-1 league start.
Though Burnley sit near the bottom of the table, they're poised to play Van Gaal's side tough once again.
"We'll be determined to get something there and we know that if we get everyone performing well, we're a match for anyone," Burnley midfielder David Jones' told the team's official website.
Burnley have been blanked in two straight fixtures with United, and totalled one goal over the last three meetings.
The Clarets have won twice in the last 12 top-division matches and are 0-2-3 away from Turf Moor since posting their lone league road win at Stoke City on Nov. 22. However, they avoided a third straight Premier League defeat by drawing 2-2 at home against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Though the point was much-needed, blowing a 2-0 advantage on goals provided by Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings left hints of frustration that Sean Dyche's club must forget about.
"It was disappointing to be two-nil up and lose the lead, but it was a good performance overall," Jones added. "We still need to get a lot of points on the board, but psychologically it's always good to be just above the relegation zone (heading into the week). We'll start again on Wednesday looking to get something from the game and it's a big one for us."
Heading into the mid-week action, Man United's 1,861 long passes played by the club trail only Burnley's 1,877 for most in the league.