Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria

Premier League Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley won last PL fixture vs. Utd at Turf Moor (Aug. 2009)
  • Prior to that, Burnley last beat United in 1968
  • Red Devils hold 48W-16D-40L advantage in rivalry

Two teams with very different sorts of desperation kick off the Premier League weekend with a Saturday morning match, as Burnley face Manchester United at Turf Moor (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET Saturday and online via Live Extra).

The Clarets remain on the lookout for their first Premier League point since earning promotion in May, having lost to visiting Chelsea on opening weekend and falling at Swansea City in Week Two.

[ RELATED: Angel Di Maria unveiled by United, LVG says don’t expect “miracles” ]

As for their opponents, Louis van Gaal’s United hasn’t looked much different than David Moyes’ side (aside from formation). The Red Devils fell to Swansea City and drew Sunderland, failing to win either of its opening matches against beatable competition.

United does have the benefit of reinforcements to a beleaguered club that fell 4-0 to MK Dons in a mid-week League Cup fixture, though Argentine defender Marcos Rojo still faces work permit issues, with Angel Di Maria slated to make his Man Utd debut after sealing a near-$100 million switch from Real Madrid.

What they’re saying

source:  Burnley manager Sean Dyche on facing a wounded United: “Whether they are under pressure or not, it will only be shown when the whistle blows as the rest of it is opinion, perception and conjecture. That’s when two teams come together and ours will be ready, organised and certainly fit enough, we know that. We want to play with quality and give a performance that can win.”

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal on new signing Angel Di Maria: “He fits into our philosophy. What he can do more to fit in our philosophy is that I can change the system with him and maybe we shall do that in the future, during a match or something like that, which I did against Swansea City. He played in Real Madrid not only as a wide wing player but also in midfield. That is also a reason why we are convinced that he shall succeed.”


Regardless of whether Di Maria plays, it’s hard to imagine Manchester United doesn’t wake up and use its desperation as an advantage. With ADM in the lineup, it’s easy to expect rejuvenation and fireworks from an attack that will reap the benefits of one of the best 1v1 players in the world. Call it 3-1 to the Red Devils.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.