Old Trafford, Manchester
UEFA Europa League 2016/17
Thursday 29th September 2016 – KO 20:05 [Live on BT Sport]
Referee: Orel Grinfeld (ISR)
Assistant Referees: Danny Krasikow (ISR) and Roy Hassan (ISR)
Additional Assistant Referees: Eli Hacmon (ISR) and Eitan Shmuelevitz (ISR)
Fourth Official: Kiril Balikin (ISR)
Manchester United face Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night, the first European fixture at Old Trafford this season. United have recovered from a poor period of form, losing three matches in a row, which included a defeat to Feyenoord in the Europa League a fortnight ago. United have since beaten Northampton Town 3-1 and Leicester City 4-1, putting them back on a winning run, which could be lengthened ahead of the international break with home matches against Zorya Luhansk and Stoke City. Jose Mourinho’s side put in a clinical first half against the Premier League champions Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, having a period of 20 minutes which saw them score four goals, beating the reigning champions in the first half of the match. Wayne Rooney was benched for the visit of the champions, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the flanks, Juan Mata playing in Rooney’s number ten role and Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba partnering each other in midfield. Pogba and Herrera both played well in the match, with the former scoring his first goal for his club.
United looked dominant against the champions, with will not be something the Ukrainian side will be looking forward to on their first visit to Old Trafford, a match Mourinho and his squad will be looking to win, registering their first points in Europe’s secondary competition and continuing their unbeaten form this season. The visit of Stoke City, currently at the bottom of the league comes on Sunday, which Mourinho’s side will be looking forward to, slapping more unfortunate news on former United striker Mark Hughes, whose team have not started the season well, earning just two points after six matches. United are in a period of good fortune, the team spirit of the squad will be high and players will be fresh for the match. It is suggested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been given a short period of time off, meaning Rooney could return to the starting XI once more.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan seems to have overcome his thigh muscle strain and could be involved against the Ukrainian side, which will be good news for United, who could be a mush stronger side with his presence, but I have still listed him as a doubt as this news has not yet been confirmed by the club. United will be excited to get points on the board in the Europa League this season wit matches against Fenerbahçe (a double-header in October and November) before a home clash with Feyenoord and an away visit to Odessa to face Zorya in December. If United can beat Zorya, then earn two victories against the Turkish giants, with Robin van Persie likely to face his former club, a point against Feyenoord could secure United in the knockout rounds of 32 which will see many teams from the Champions League fall into the secondary competition, making it much harder.
United may not list the Europa League as a tournament they want to play in, but United have not yet won this cup in the club’s history and it will secure a place in the Champions League next season, which would be handy to have, just in case their league form does not improve to finish in the top four this season, which should really be a possibility. United are currently sixth in the league; a point behind Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal, two points behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and six points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Manchester United Form:- WWLLL
Leicester City 4-1 W, Northampton Town 3-1 W, Watford 3-1 L, Feyenoord 1-0 L, Manchester City 2-1 L
Manchester United have recovered from a poor period of form in which they lost three matches in a row; two in the Premier League and one in the UEFA Europa League. United started the season with four wins in a row in the FA Community Shield and the Premier League. Since losing against Manchester City, Feyenoord, and Watford, United have beaten Northampton Town 3-1 in the EFL Cup and champions Leicester City 4-1 in the Premier League. Jose Mourinho’s side played their best match this season, albeit in the first half, against Leicester at Old Trafford at the weekend, winning the match in the first half, slowing down in the second, being 4-0 up from the first half. United are now a team on the rise, and that form should continue against the Ukrainian side and into the Premier League against Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday, putting United in good stead going into the international break. United have never faced Zorya Luhansk before but have played six matches against Ukrainian sides; Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013, winning 1-0 and drawing 1-1, also playing against Dynamo Kyiv four times, winning 4-0 and 4-2 in 2007, winning 1-0 and drawing 0-0 in 2000.
Zorya Luhansk Form:- WWDDL
FC Vorskla Poltava 2-1 W, FC Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 W, Fenerbahçe SK 1-1 D, FC Stal Dniprodzerzhynsk 2-2 D, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2-0 L
Zorya Luhansk have been beaten only once this season, in ten matches; winning six, drawing three also. They are currently second in the Ukrainian Premier League, five points adrift of leaders Shakhtar Donetsk and a point clear of Dynamo Kyiv. Top scorers Oleksandr Karavayev and Željko Ljubenović have scored three goals each this season, two goals less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic and one less than Marcus Rashford, who could well be given a chance to play against the Ukrainian side, given his clinical goalscoring presence at this moment in time. United have never faced Zorya and neither have they faced an English team in any European competition.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
5 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Juan Mata, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling
Zorya Luhansk Top Scorers:
3 – Oleksandr Karavayev, Željko Ljubenović, 2 – Artem Gordiyenko, Ivan Petryak, 1 – Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis, Ihor Chaykovskyi, Dmytro Grechyshkin, Yevhen Opanasenko, Paulinho, Yevhen Tkachuk
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (contusion), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh muscle strain), Luke Shaw (groin strain)
Zorya Luhansk Squad:
Manager: Yuriy Vernydub
Goalkeepers: Oleksiy Shevchenko, Oleh Chuvayev, Ihor Levchenko
Defenders: Artem Sukhotskyi, Mikhail Sivakov, Ihor Chaykovskyi, Mykyta Kamenyuka, Rafael Forster, Hryhoriy Yarmash, Yevhen Tkachuk, Yevhen Opanasenko, Vyacheslav Checher, Eduard Sobol
Midfielders: Artem Gordiyenko, Ivan Petryak, Ihor Kharatin, Oleksandr Karavayev, Željko Ljubenović, Dmytro Grechyshkin
Forwards: Vladyslav Kulach, Paulinho, Yaroslav Kvasov, Denys Bezborodko, Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis
Injuries and Suspensions: N/A
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United 3-0 Zorya Luhansk