English Premiership

United banking on Di Maria magic

2014-08-28 10:54
Angel di Maria (AFP)

London - Manchester United will be hoping that record signing Angel Di Maria can give their season a belated kick-start this weekend when they travel to lowly Burnley, still chasing their first win of the new campaign.

Chastened by defeat in their opener at home to Swansea, a draw at Sunderland and a humiliating defeat by League One side MK Dons in the Capital One Cup, the arrival of £59.7million signing Di Maria from Real Madrid has given United a timely lift.

United fans fear another big upset but manager Louis van Gaal believes they will require patience with the Argentina midfielder as he adjusts to the Premier League and with the team as a whole.

"I think he shall contribute very much in our way of playing and he is also a creative player," Van Gaal said.

"I think that he can contribute and that's very important but we don't want expect, from tomorrow, that the world has changed - no. He needs to get used to the culture of the Premier League and to the philosophy of Manchester United."

Van Gaal has asked United fans to bear with him as he changes their 4-4-2 system to 5-3-2, his favourite formation and one that has worked well for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager.

But the Dutchman would not be drawn on whether Di Maria's inclusion means that he will have to be flexible with his formations.

"It's a matter of time because the process needs time and we shall see if, with Di Maria, we have to change the system or not," he said.

Di Maria could go straight into the squad for this weekend's trip to Burnley but Van Gaal will not be able to call on the services of Shinji Kagawa, who is out after sustaining concussion in the midweek 4-0 Capital One Cup defeat at MK Dons.

Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Jesse Lingard also remain on the sidelines.

However, Burnley manager Sean Dyche is wary that United will take out all their frustration on his newly-promoted side.

"There is a bit of a hoo-ha about Manchester United at the moment," Dyche said. "I don't see it like that. I look at the players they have got, the manager they have got, the club they are.

"I'm not thinking they are going to come here and - by some miracle - not be strong. They will certainly be strong."

Another new arrival is likely to capture many headlines this weekend, with Mario Balotelli set to make his debut for Liverpool away to Tottenham after his move from AC Milan.

The Italy striker will hope to help lift his team-mates after their 3-1 defeat at champions Manchester City, his former side, on Monday night.

Balotelli watched that match from the stands but manager Brendan Rodgers said: "I think by the weekend he'll be ready.

"He's been into pre-season (with Milan) and he's played three 45-minute games. He might not be up to full match speed, but he's looking fit."

Champions City entertain Stoke City while Chelsea are away to Everton, and Swansea, together with Tottenham the other side with six points out of six, host West Bromwich Albion.

Arsenal are away to Leicester, fresh from qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League in mid-week, when new signing Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal for the club.

"Alexis was mobile, dangerous and showed great fighting spirit," manager Arsene Wenger said. "These are qualities that will be important in the Premier League."

Neil Warnock begins his second spell in charge at Crystal Palace with a trip to Newcastle, Sunderland travel to Queens Park Rangers, West Ham play Southampton and Aston Villa face Hull City.


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