Up against a side who surrender the vast majority of the ball, sit deep and make themselves difficult to break down, Manchester United did the unthinkable: they won.
Capitalising on a defensive mistake in the dying embers of the first half, United got their noses in front when Anthony Martial slotted past Nick Pope to put the Red Devils into a deserved lead.
Burnley were fairly adamant in their approach, gambling on set pieces and setting up two banks of four, that they would suffocate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side of any creativity and try to pinch a winner from dead balls.
That didn’t transpire and, in fact, Marcus Rashford sealed the three points in final seconds of the match to secure his side a hard-fought, but much warranted, win.
What made the Saturday night trip to Turf Moor all the sweeter for the travelling faithful, and indeed the entire club, was that they kept a clean sheet. Yes, the shutout they recorded against the Clarets was something supporters have waited for, for almost a year.
Remarkably, Opta revealed the clean sheet was United‘s first away from home in the Premier League since February, thus bringing an end to a barren run of 14 matches without letting the opposition score.
16 – Marcus Rashford has 16 goal involvements in 20 Premier League games this season (12 goals, 4 assists), as many as he got in 33 games in the competition last term (10 goals, 6 assists). Thriving. pic.twitter.com/pKxUWg7eNO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2019
Towards the tail end of last season, the Red Devils journeyed down to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham where a Paul Pogba brace and Martial strike handed the club a 3-0 victory against the struggling Cottagers.
The mega-money signing of Harry Maguire was meant to add steel to a faltering backline, but alongside first-choice partner Victor Lindelof, it has taken quite some time to see the fruits of those expensive labours come to fruition.
It is something to build on for United, who have begun clawing their way back into top-four contention with some morale-boosting wins in recent weeks. Just one defeat in their last six has seen them come within one point and one place of Chelsea in fourth, and the Blues’ stuttering form may see an avenue open up for Solskjaer’s side to sneak into Europe’s elite club competition.
There is still half of the season left to play, but moving forward the clean sheet at Turf Moor could be used a spring towards more stability on the road, with the ultimate prize of a top-four place looking a far more achievable target.