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PREVIEW: Dyche Counts On Competitive Edge

22 April 2017

Sean Dyche is counting on the Clarets’ competitive edge to try and cut down Manchester United and bring an end to the former champions' six-month unbeaten Premier League run.

Fifth-placed United are undefeated in 22 league games in a sequence stretching back to October as they head for a sold-out Turf Moor on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho’s side also booked their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League with victory over Anderlecht on Thursday night.

But they were unable to find a way past a defiant Burnley at Old Trafford in a 0-0 draw at the end of October.

And after seeing his side beat Liverpool and Everton at Turf Moor, hold leaders Chelsea to a draw and lose only by the odd goal to Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal at home so far this season, Dyche is planning to make life awkward for another of the top-flight’s big guns. 

The Burnley boss said: “I think our fans are very genuine in our challenge compared with Manchester United’s challenge.

“But we are in the same league again and to be fighting against each other for points is fantastic.

“I think it’s good for us as a group. I think it’s good for the club and I think it’s good for the town.

"I think that's a key thing, that competitive edge.

“To think you are always going to outplay these teams is not impossible, but it’s improbable. They are very fine players, technically.

“But that competitive edge and that competitive spirit - along with good organisation – and we have taken on every challenge with that.

“We have shown our end of it by being so close on a few occasions and taking a couple of scalps along the way.

“You need to turn up and play well and sometimes you need them to have a quieter day.

“I won’t say we’ve become used to it (taking on top sides), but we have become more accustomed to it over the season, so it makes for a good game yet again.”

The visitors will be without top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defender Marcos Rojo after they were both injured in the extra-time win over Anderlecht, which kept United’s twin-prong attack on a Champions League place on track.

But Dyche still expects a major challenge from a star-studded squad operating under multiple title-winning boss Mourinho.

He added: “They aren’t short of options. That player everyone thinks isn’t that good any more?

“I always think he’s decent – the boy (Wayne) Rooney. If they chose to play him I don’t think he’d let anyone down! 

“I still think they have depth at that club and of course they are very flexible and have players who can play in many different positions.

“Is it helpful if they have some injuries? Of course, because if players are playing regularly under a manager like Jose Mourinho it suggests he’s picking them for a reason.

“But does it mean there aren’t other good players there? Of course it doesn’t. They are still a fine side, whatever side they put out, and they still have a fine manager, in my opinion.

“For all there’s a bit of noise around games they could and should have won etc, it’s still a fair record to go 22 unbeaten.”

On the injury front for Burnley, Sam Vokes, who teaked a hamstring in last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Everton, and Scott Arfield, who missed the Merseyside trip with a slight knee problem, are rated touch-and-go.

But Johann Berg Gudmundsson is in contention for a place in the match-day squad as the Clarets look to protect an unbeaten home record in the Premier League against the 20-time league champions and add to their 10 Turf Moor victories to take a step closer to guaranteed safety.

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