Manchester United ’s players want to do all they can to pile the pressure on arch-rivals Liverpool before facing them on the pitch.
The Red Devils go to Anfield for their crunch Premier League title showdown on Sunday, January 17 (4.30pm).
Neither team is due to play in the midweek prior to the clash on Merseyside, as they each have a rare winter break then.
Five Premier League games are being played the midweek before and after that middle weekend of next month to ensure sides get some rest in a busy season.
The winter break has been removed for the 2020/21 campaign due to the time constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the rest for high-flying United and Liverpool after their FA Cup third-round ties, the Red Devils are not content.
According to the Manchester Evening News , the United dressing room wants to play their Premier League game in hand just before they take on Liverpool.
As things stand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sit second, three points off the reigning champions, but having played a game less.
United have already closed the gap at the top this week after beating Wolves 1-0 at Old Trafford with a stoppage-time winner from Marcus Rashford, while Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at Newcastle.
A victory at home to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day (8pm) would put them level with Liverpool at the start of 2021.
The Reds, meanwhile, face a tough contest next too as they go to Southampton on Monday, January 4 (8pm).
The FA Cup third round is the weekend after, as Liverpool go to Aston Villa on Friday 8 and United host Watford on Saturday 9.
Additionally, United are set to host neighbours Manchester City in their Carabao Cup semi-final before then on Wednesday, January 6, so long as Covid-19 does not force it to be postponed amid the outbreak in Pep Guardiola’s squad.
That tie means United already face a busier period than Liverpool ahead of the game at Anfield.
But the Red Devils’ strong form and momentum at present has them desperate to keep the ball rolling.
In the midweek before playing Liverpool, it is said the bulk of the players want to take on Burnley at Turf Moor – the game from the opening weekend that was postponed to give United a proper pre-season break following their run to the Europa League semi-finals in August.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley also have a gap that midweek of Tuesday, January 12 and Wednesday, January 13 as their Premier League midweek match is the week after, like United’s at Fulham and Liverpool’s against the Clarets.
Burnley’s FA Cup third-round tie is at home to MK Dons on Saturday, January 9 – the same as United – so they have no restrictions playing United on either potential midweek date.
They may not even have a Premier League game before that at the start of January as they are due to host Fulham on Sunday, but that match is in doubt due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Cottagers' squad that forced their fixture with Tottenham to be called off on Wednesday.
Should the Premier League approve and Burnley be open to the fixture being slotted in next month, it offers United a welcome opportunity to exert extra pressure on Liverpool, should they win at Turf Moor.
The hectic fixture calendar and United’s drop into the Europa League means the next available window to play their game against Burnley may not come until as late in the season as April.
Earlier in December, Solskjaer himself admitted: "For us, the quicker we can get the game in hand against Burnley played the better so that the league table looks as it should be."
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