As the unconvincing and difficult month of October is over, Manchester United would like to start the month of November on a positive and winning note. Last month was always going to be tough, considering not just the opposition but also the cramped up matches. While there was a 15 days gap due to the international break, United played five games in the following 12 days. However the defeat to Chelsea and the draws, which will feel like losses, against Stoke City and Burnley meant, United only got nine out of the available 18 points. This has also opened up a significant distance to the top four and the league leaders.
It’s still early days in the league but if things don’t work out quickly, United will be left too far behind to play catch up with the top four in the table. In wake of these things, the Europa League might just become United’s important option for booking a place in the Champion’s League next season. Although there is still lot of football to be played, United cannot underestimate the importance of this competition now. But will that force Jose Mourinho to play his strongest XI on Thursday, when his team travels to Turkey? I don’t think so. With important few weeks coming up in the Premier League, the manager will try and rotate his squad to rest a few of his players and have them ready for the upcoming games.
Starting XI (4-3-3):
Goalkeeper – Sergio Romero
The Argentinian has been on the bench for quite some time now, but that is what happens when you are competing with David De Gea for the spot. However, with it being an away tie on a Thursday night, Mourinho might want to give his first choice number one a little rest.
Back Four – Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Daley Blind, Marcus Rojo, Luke Shaw
Although, Axel Tuanzebe and Joe Riley trained with the first team, they will not be traveling with the squad to Turkey. So it looks like the back four will remain more or less the same, with only a little tweaking. Fosu-Mensah might get a nod in, in place of Matteo Darmian who has been impressive in the past couple of games. Luke Shaw might keep his left back position as he needs some game time after coming back from the injury himself. So, there doesn’t look like a lot that will change in the backline for United. With Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly out with injuries, Mourinho is anyways short on defensive options.
Central Midfielders – Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Paul Pogba
Schneiderlin has not been fully utilized by Mourinho this season and he might get a chance to prove his worth to the team and potentially convince the manager that he deserves to start, like Ander Herrera did a couple of months back. With Schneiderlin and Herrera behind him, Pogba will have full license to go on attacks as he has been doing in the past few games.
Forward Three – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial
Mkhitaryan has now been training with the squad without any restrictions and this might be the perfect game for him to start. The pressure for the game will be slightly lower than a normal league game and this might be an ideal way for the Armenian to ease in to the squad. Along with Mkhitaryan, Martial and Memphis, too, need game time. Memphis, particularly, has not been given a decent opportunity to showcase his side of things. He has either been on bench as an unused substitute or has been thrown in to the deep end while the team is chasing a result with only a few minutes to go. But with him not traveling with the squad, it looks like another start to the club captain Wayne Rooney. Martial, will also want to get back in some sort of form if he wishes to play more games this season. As of now, he is behind Marcus Rashford in the pecking order and he should be using it as a motivation to put in decent performances.
This, again, is one of those less important games which cannot be taken too lightly. United have already lost one away game but winning this would make their road to the next stage pretty straightforward. Hopefully, the rotated squad will do justice to the opportunities given to them and will make them count.