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Preview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to blood in the youth against Astana in a match that could be great for the future of the club

FC Astana -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Astana Arena, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Thursday 28 November 2019, KO 15:50 GMT

Referee: Andre Marriner  Assistants: Simon Long; Sian Massey-Ellis Fourth Official: Andy Madley

Manchester United will play their penultimate UEFA Europa League group stage match against Astana in the Astana Arena in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Thursday afternoon (in the United Kingdom). The match will kick off at 15:50 GMT, 21:50 local time. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a very young squad with ten players who have not yet made their debuts for the United first team.

There are also four players who have played for the first team this season, some of them sparingly and four players who are considered experienced, either seeking minutes of a way to get back into the first team after injury or a year of poor form, guess who?. The blooding of youth is going to be great for United as there are so many talented players in the youth teams seeking their chances.

Astana have been eliminated from the Europa League this season, despite having two more matches to play, which will end their 2019 season, of which they were crowned as the Kazakhstani Premier League champions once again. United will be seeking to bounce back from their 3-3 draw against Sheffield United on Sunday but will be rested ahead of the important visit of Aston Villa to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon. Come on United!

Form: Four wins, a draw and a defeat for United in their last six matches whereas Astana have three wins and three defeats in their last six. This will be a match where youth can prevail.

Manchester United: DWWLWW

Sheffield United 3-3 D, Brighton And Hove Albion 3-1 W, Partizan Belgrade 3-0 W, Bournemouth 1-0 L, Chelsea 2-1 W, Norwich City 3-1 W

FC Astana: LLWWWL

Irtysh 2-0 L, AZ Alkmaar 5-0 L, Tobol 1-0 W, Okzhetpes 1-0 W, Aktobe 5-0 W, AZ Alkmaar 6-0 L

Top Scorers: United need to start finding ways to score goals for fun this season. The blooding of youth may just be a right avenue to start with, before seeking to bring in new faces in January.

Manchester United: 27 goals scored by United this season and if youth taken their chance and produce the goods, that figure could become much higher as the season progresses.

Goals: 10 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 1 – Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams

United have shown much better form recently, apart from in the first 70 minutes against Sheffield United at the weekend. The fact the players dug deep and inspired a late comeback, scoring three goals in seven minutes, shows that something is there waiting to be grabbed by the neck and thrown at the opposition. The fact that youth are being blood into the team is something to look forward to.

FC Astana: 80 goals scored for Astana this season and they are the champions of Kazakhstan. Two matches remain of their 2019 season. Will they have what it takes to shoot down this young United squad?

Goals: 26 – Marin Tomasov, 10 – Roman Murtazayev, 7 – Dorin Rotariu, Rangelo Janga, Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson, 5 – Yuriy Logvinenko, 4 – Sergei Khizhnichenko, 3 – Serikzhan Muzhikov, 2 – Abzal Beisebekov, Didar Zhalmukan, Ivan Mayewski, Yevgeny Postnikov, Yuriy Pertsukh, 1 – Ndombe Mubele

Astana won the Kazakhstan Premier League by a single point just over a fortnight ago. They have qualified for next seasons UEFA Champions League first qualifying round and have been eliminated from the Europa League this season. It has been a long season for this team and they might have their minds on their holidays and not the cold Kazakhstani climate as they welcome United before heading to Belgrade for their final match of 2019.

Team News: Youth to be given a massive chance in the Europa League to show what they are made of in a bid to making the first team in the not too distant future. Exciting times.

Solskjaer seems to have taken the best available option for this match in Kazakhstan – leaving players who could be utilised against Aston Villa on Sunday in Manchester and allowing a very young team to travel to face Astana, being that the U23s won’t play again until the 3 December. The likes of Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Marcos Rojo, Nemanja Matic, Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailly are out of action.

A very young squad flew to Kazakhstan on Tuesday which included 10 players who have not yet represented the first team for the club; Matej Kovar, Max Taylor, Teden Mengi, Di’Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird, Ethan Galbraith, Arnau Puigmal, Dylan Levitt, D’Mani Bughail-Mellor, and Largie Ramazani. Also included were youngsters James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes, and Mason Greenwood.

The other four players in the 18-man travelling squad were Lee Grant, Luke Shaw, Tim Fosu-Mensah, and Jesse Lingard. It is fair to say that Grant, Shaw, and Lingard may need minutes, two of them (Shaw and Lingard) to show something that will put them back into regular first team contention. Fosu-Mensah will be looking for minutes to come back from his knee injury and turn back the time on his career at the club.

Predicted Starting XI: This is going to be a great look for United’s academy as there will be debuts across the pitch against Astana. Hopefully, they can do themselves proud and show the club what it is all about.

It is fair to say that this team will see major changes ahead of this match, which is what is needed at this time. United lead the group with ten points and AZ Alkmaar, United’s next opposition on second place with eight points. Partizan Belgrade sit in third place with four points and Astana lie at the bottom without a single point in four matches. This might be a test for United’s youth, but it is also a test with a low risk.

Match Prediction: One match played and one match won for United. Can the talented youth make it two wins in two matches against Astana? They have a lot of talent and could certainly reach that objective.

United and Astana have played one in the history of both clubs. That match was played on the 9 September at Old Trafford in a match which saw Mason Greenwood score his first goal for the first team in a season which could see him becoming a much more relied upon player in the squad. Solskjaer has made a big decision to let youth prevail in this match and if they do well, we could see something exciting this season.

FC Astana 0-2 Manchester United

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