Manchester United face Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, needing a point from the match in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. French forward Anthony Martial feels that his club must be positive about the match, adapting themselves to get the result they need, which should really be no less than a victory, which would instill confidence ahead of Sunday’s visit of Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, with United needing a win after three draws in a row in the league, and three draws in a row in the league at Old Trafford. United may not yet be firing on all cylinders, in the league at least, but it is now that they need to stand up and be counted.
United will play in unfamiliar surroundings, travelling to Odessa, as Luhansk is a war zone and football has been taken to the west side of the country. Ukraine will face sub-zero temperatures and a crowd which will be massively in support of the home team, despite the fact they cannot progress in the competition this season, earning just two points from the five matches they have played this season. Speaking to the official Manchester United website about the clash in Odessa, Martial said:
“It is very different – not just the supporters but the weather! Over there, it’s really cold at this time of the season.
“But it’s down to us to come to terms with that, adapt to the environment we find ourselves in and get the victory we need.
“You prepare as well as you can and rest on the plane, but a lot of it can be in your head. It’s how you approach things mentally. It’s about what happens on the pitch; if you do your stuff out there, that’s what counts.”
Manchester United beat Zorya Luhansk 1-0 back in September, taking 69 minutes to find the only goal of the match, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, assisted by Wayne Rooney. With Zorya playing for pride, and at home, in effect, it may see United have a much more difficult encounter. The Chornomorets Stadium, where the match will be played in Odessa will hold around 16,000 supporters, the majority of which will be home support, which will make the atmosphere a little more difficult for United, who will need to get the result they desire, or face an early exit from the competition, which will then unleash much more negativity from the awaiting media. Speaking about the match, Martial said:
“We’re expecting a difficult encounter. Things went quite well for us in the home game but it’ll be different over there.
“They’ll be in front of their own supporters and will be determined to make life difficult for us to get a result, so we’ll be on our guard.”
United have previously played well in cup competition, in actual fact, they have played well in all matches recently, falling in the Premier League, where they have not won a match since the 3-1 thrashing of bottom of the table Swansea City a month ago. Prior to that, United had not won in the league since the 4-1 victory over reigning Premier League champions Leicester City on the 24th September, which shows that despite the style of football changing, United still have a lot more to do in order to bring back the glory days. In the UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup, United so seem like a different side. They scored four goals against Feyenoord at Old Trafford three weeks ago, then scoring four again in a 4-1 victory over West Ham United in the EFL Cup a week later, just days after a 1-1 draw in the Premier League between the two clubs. United might be down in the dumps about their recent results in the league, but they are not out yet and the next few weeks could show that, should United raise their game in the league, starting with Sunday’s visit of Tottenham Hotspur, which will be a tough match.