Manchester United beat Burnley 3-1 at Old Trafford to ensure they finished 2021 with three crucial Premier League points.
Here are five things we learned from the clash at the Theatre of Dreams…
Rangnick rings changes
Following a lacklustre performance against Newcastle United on Monday night, the Reds’ interim manager made six changes to the starting line-up.
After a goal on his return from injury, Edinson Cavani started alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for just the second time this season.
The 63-year-old rotated both of his full-backs and brought in Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic for Raphael Varane and Fred.
With United welcoming Wolves to M16 on Monday, Rangnick made wholesale changes to freshen things up but also showed his ruthless streak by dropping some under-performing stars.
Rangnick managing Varane return
With Victor Lindelof isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 and Bailly seemingly ready to depart for the African Cup of Nations, Varane came back into the starting line-up at Newcastle.
But with the Swede remaining unavailable for the visit of the Clarets, Bailly had to put his African Cup of Nations trip on hold to face Sean Dyche’s side.
The Ivorian replaced Varane in the starting line-up which was a wise move by Rangnick following the World Cup winners recent injury struggles.
Two starts in four days following no game time since early November could have pushed the former Real Madrid man to the limit.
But United’s number 19 had to come on and replace the injured Bailly with 25 minutes remaining.
Keeping the Frenchman fit for the remainder of the season is crucial to our top four hopes.
Ronaldo scores against 82nd different league team
The great Portuguese would have been kicking himself after missing a great chance in the opening stages after a great ball over the top by Luke Shaw.
United’s number seven then had another good opportunity after being played in by Scott McTominay, but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet.
But his goal finally came after McTominay’s strike was pushed onto the bar by Wayne Hennessey, but the ball fell into the path of Ronaldo, who calmly tapped the ball home.
In his first game against Burnley, Ronaldo inevitably added another team he had scored against to his ever-growing CV. Burnley were the 82nd different league team the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has netted against.
McTominay drives United on
After a tepid performance against Newcastle, United needed to show greater urgency and desire against a physical and dogged Burnley side.
With United needing someone to stand up and lead by example, McTominay dominated midfield and looked to get his team on the front foot and inject a tempo into our play.
Driving forward with his trademark lung-busting runs, the Scot certainly had his shooting boots on.
After a Ronaldo touch fell perfectly into his path, McTominay slotted home United’s quickest Premier League goal of the season to help settle some nerves.
United’s number 39 would have had a second hadn’t it been for a world class save from Hennessey, but the Welshman’s efforts couldn’t stop from Ronaldo tapping home.
The academy graduate tested Burnley’s number two from range again in the second half, with his effort tipped over the bar.
Shaw and Sancho link-up encouraging
Luke Shaw was making his first Premier League appearance under Rangnick and he looked like a man with a point to prove.
Galloping forward and being a constant attacking outlet, United’s left-back created space for Sancho to exploit.
The England internationals linked up to good effect down United’s left which would have encouraged Rangnick.
The pair will be hoping to build on a burgeoning partnership with a start in Monday’s clash against Wolves.
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