After another good performance but undesired result, Manchester United will host Feyenoord in their second last group game of the Europa League. A win in this game will put United, almost, through to the knockout stages of the competition as Feyenoord and Fenerbahce will play each other in the last round of the group stages. With the game being moderately important considering this, Jose Mourinho might look to play a strong XI. The manager will also want to avenge the “against the run of play” defeat to the same opposition earlier in the competition.
However, Mourinho will also be in the familiar dilemma of whom to play and who to rest, considering United play another game about 48 hours later. But this is now going to be the situation for several weeks considering the different tournaments and upcoming holiday season, so he needs to figure out his team strategy for the period. The injury list is getting better, however the central defense might still be a little sparse. Lets have a look at what might be the starting XI for the Thursday game.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper – Sergio Romero
It has been quite some time that Romero has not been used in a game and De Gea might do well with some rest. It is not that the keepers need a lot of that but a little break from the routine might do him some good. He has seemed a little slow on the reflexes off late but that can also be solely due to the unrealistic expectations that he has set with his world class reactions in the past seasons.
Back Four – Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, Daley Blind
Antonio Valencia made a fantastic comeback from his wrist injury and gave a man of the match performance against Arsenal. But Mourinho might want to keep him fresh for the Sunday game and use Darmian on the right of the defense. Blind, who has not featured a lot in the past few games might get a look in at left back. The central defensive partnership of Jones and Rojo seems to be developing well so persisting with them might bode well for both in the long run.
Central Midfield – Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba
After playing Carrick against Arsenal, it will be unlikely that he will play again in three days time, looking at how Mourinho is using him this season. Herrera might be given the defensive midfielders duties. Also, Pogba and Herrera seems to be working well in that midfield and will most probably be persisted with considering their importance to the team right now.
Wingers – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Memphis Depay
This might be the area where Mourinho might make some changes. He has already confirmed that Mkhitaryan will be playing against Feyenoord but another surprise starter might be Memphis. The Dutchman got his first brace playing for the Netherlands national team and Mourinho could want to use the confidence to get good performances out of Memphis. He has hardly got any significant chance this season to prove his worth but he might get one in the upcoming game.
Number 10 – Wayne Rooney
Mourinho has used Rooney mostly off the bench in the last few games but might want him to start this one. He has been under severe criticism for things done on and off the field but Mourinho has maintained that he still remains as important a part of the team as he was before. Rooney has shown some fight in his recent on field appearances but hasn’t been able to replicate his usual form. He will be looking to make this one count, if he indeed gets to start.
Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic who was sidelined against Arsenal due to his five yellows, will make his comeback upfront. He got a couple of goals against Swansea, breaking his goal drought and would like to continue with it in the upcoming games, starting with this one.
This is again one of those games which is neither a must win but important enough to not take it lightly. Players need to be at the top of their game and treat it as the important game that it is. The game will also be a good chance for a few players to put their hands up and make a point for themselves. With the poor game form that United have shown in the league, they might want to keep, other options of getting the Champions League spot, open.