Manchester United will travel to the Netherlands to face AZ Alkmaar at the Cars Jeans Stadium in The Hague on Thursday evening. The match will kick-off at the earlier time of 17:55, giving United a few hours more to prepare for the trip to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking under pressure this season as his team struggles.
The Norwegian manager has a similar record as Jose Mourinho in the 27 matches before the Arsenal draw which has led to supporters questioning whether Solskjaer is the right man for the job. Imagine having social media in the mid to late 1980s – Sir Alex Ferguson would not have stood a chance with the modern-day football supporter.
AZ Alkmaar manager Arne Slot will be seeking more of the same from his squad, which have lost just one match in the Eredivisie this season. Starting their season at the end of July, the Dutch side will be in better form and fitness than this United squad, who seem to be suffering many injuries early on. United won their first match, the Dutch drew theirs.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
The Argentinian goalkeeper has played twice this season, keeping a clean sheet in the home UEFA Europa League victory over Astana nearly a fortnight ago, also playing in the 5-3 penalty victory over Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup last week. It is clear that Sergio Romero will be a cup competition goalkeeper for much of the time this season.
David De Gea will most likely be rested ahead of the visit to Newcastle United on Sunday, which will be an important match for United to get back to winning ways, especially after the 5-0 hammering they received from Leicester City last weekend. Romero will be ready to go, his professionalism is actually great to see, as are his performances in goal.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo, Brandon Williams
Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed the 1-1 draw with Arsenal due to a bout of tonsillitis and there is hope that he will be fit to face AZ Alkmaar. If not, Diogo Dalot could be called into the squad. Axel Tuanzebe should keep his place in the starting XI after his performances against Rochdale and Arsenal, despite the error he made which led to Arsenal’s equaliser.
Marcos Rojo should be given the chance to show Solskjaer what he has in his locker, as when he has played, especially against Rochdale, he was one of the most attacking players on the pitch. Tuanzebe played at left-back against Arsenal but in this match, Brandon Williams, who missed the EFL Trophy match on Tuesday evening, should start.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred
The midfield is a problematic area in the squad right now. The lack of depth is worrying and the form of Paul Pogba is something that should be generating many questions, however, he is being praised by factions of the fan base. As he has problems with his ankle again, it is clear he’s not ready to start matches and play regularly.
Scott McTominay and Fred should start this match. The Brazilian needs a run of matches to find some form and McTominay is the better option to partner him in this match, although Nemanja Matic will probably be given the nod ahead of him, which will slow the game down. I would have liked to see James Garner, however, he played on Tuesday evening.
Attacking Midfield: Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes, Daniel James
Despite this being an important fixture, I think the youth should be given the opportunity to start matches and learn what is required to be a consistent starter at this club. I would have liked to see Tahith Chong start, but he started for the U21s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday evening, no might not make the squad. Andreas Pereira might keep his place.
Angel Gomes should be given a start to show what he can do, playing in the number ten role, behind the striker. I feel he has the necessary creativity in order to drive United forward, which is what they want to be doing. Daniel James should keep his place on the left-wing, a position that he can be devastating in, given the chance.
Striker: Mason Greenwood
The 18-year-old should have started against Arsenal on Monday evening as in his last two matches before that one, he had scored two goals. Greenwood has all the attributes in his locker to be a great finisher for United but he needs to be afforded time and patience, something which many supposed supporter of the club are not willing to give.
Greenwood is a better option over Marcus Rashford, who has not looked 100% for the majority of the season. Obviously, unless Solskjaer has lied about Anthony Martial, Rashford can be used from the bench, if needed. Greenwood should be given the confidence to earn his place in the team, which is something that I believe he can do, in time.
Substitutes: Lee Grant; Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Marcus Rashford
There are not all that many options to be utilised on the bench at this moment in time with many players on the sidelines through injury. Lee Grant will most likely be the substitute goalkeeper, giving David De Gea a rest. Victor Lindelof and Ashley Young may be the options in defence, should they be needed.
I don’t think Jesse Lingard has done enough to get into the squad recently, so he will need to earn his place, in my option. Solskjaer will most likely continue to use him, despite him offering nothing though. Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira could be impact substitutes in this game. Marcus Rashford, if fit enough, could occupy a place on the bench, if needed.