Manchester United vs Burnley: Why we can expect to see a lot of long balls at Old Trafford tonight

Statistically speaking there are likely to be more long balls in this fixture than any other Premier League meeting

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The Independent Football

Louis van Gaal yesterday made a rather bizarre rebuttal to suggestions that Manchester United are a long ball team.

The accusation was put forward by Sam Allardyce after Manchester United salvaged a 1-1 draw against West Ham by resorting to long-ball tactics.

Van Gaal was clearly riled by the suggestion, so much so he produced a series of diagrams to prove otherwise during a press conference on Tuesday. He admitted United may have been playing long passes, but they weren't necessarily forward but rather were cross field balls.


It was all rather strange, but there's no denying that this season Manchester United have been playing more long balls than the club is associated with. And the statistics suggest we could be in for quite a few in their match tonight.

Burnley, the visitors to Old Trafford, attempt more long balls per game than any other side in the Premier League. If Sean Dyche's team put in a normal performance we should see 80.

And which team in the Premier League plays the second highest number of long balls per game? You guessed it. Manchester United.

Van Gaal's team have played an average of 79 per game this season.

That means if both teams stick to their current form we should see 159 long balls tonight - or one every 34 seconds. Could be quite a spectacle.