Manchester United will be aiming home advantage and crowd support will help them qualify to the next stages of the Europa League last-16.
A surprising defeat in the hands of the FC Midtjylland in Denmark was humiliating to watch especially a fairly weakened United side who have players missing through injury. The shock comes at a time when Louis Van Gaal is fighting to keep his job and the results lately have not been encouraging to say the least. Some may say this is another must win game but the manager will shrug off this speculation and will show resilience to stay at Old Trafford.
By slipping to a 2-1 defeat, United have it in their own hands by gaining an away goal. What they will have to do is not concede and win by 1-0. But this would not be a comfortable way to qualify as the oppositions are not feared by United’s style of play and are attacking the vulnerable United team. So Van Gaal will be hoping United can score two goals to end the tie unless Midtjylland score, then the game will be very nervy and a sense of embarrassment around the stadium will filter if United fail to win. The expectation for United is to win and qualify to the next round, failing to do so will make the fans turn against the manager’s stint at the club.
United will be without De Gea who has not recovered from the injury he suffered in the warm up last Thursday. So Romero stays between the posts. Smalling should be available after colliding with an advertising board. Borthwick-Jackson is a doubt whilst Keane looks to be ruled out. Valencia has returned to training and makes his recovery from ankle injury. Januzaj is cup-tied and will not feature. Marcos Rojo is available and could get some minutes as he makes his comeback. Rooney, Fellaini, Darmian, Jones, Shaw, Young and Schweinsteiger are confirmed absentees.
Once again, it will be an inexperienced squad which Van Gaal will try to put out his best team to win. There is a huge game on Sunday against Arsenal and the priorities will be to challenge in the competitions they are currently in. The top four hopes are still there but a defeat on Sunday will further hinder their hopes for Champions League football next season. So Van Gaal will need to be aware of keeping his players fresh and ready. It will be a boost to have Rojo available again, the defence has struggled this season and the left back position has had to reinforcements from the academy which Borthwick-Jackson has covered. It is great to see Van Gaal showing faith in the youngsters such as Love, Varela, Pereira, Lingard, Will Keane and Poole. He has had to promote the players from the Under 21’s which shows he trusts the players to make the step up to the first team. Obviously, he has been forced into this action but why not? This gives hopes to younger players to have the opportunity to make it at a football club.
Possible starting XI:
Man Utd; Romero, Varela, Smalling, McNair, Blind, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Mata, Herrera, Memphis, Martial.