Manchester United will be back in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday evening as they welcome Partizan Belgrade to Old Trafford. A fortnight ago, United beat Partizan in Belgrade 1-0 with Anthony Martial scoring a penalty in the 43rd minute of the match. It was United third game in the group and their second victory, drawing with AZ Alkmaar weeks before.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has changed the form of his team after the last international break, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool at Old Trafford, then beating Partizan (1-0), Norwich City (3-1) and Chelsea (2-1) before falling to a lack lustre 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth at the weekend. Solskjaer will need to get his team back to winning ways, which could also see United reach the round of 32 stage of the tournament.
It would be fair to say that United has not had a great amount of luck this season, added to injuries, which saw Martial out for eight weeks and other important players facing time on the sidelines. Selling Romelu Lukaku may not be seen as a mistake, as supporters had stated that they wanted to see the back of him, however, not replacing him in the summer transfer window will be seen as a mistake.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
Sergio Romero has largely been the first choice goalkeeper in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup this season, giving David De Gea a break to refresh, which is a good thing. Romero is a great understudy and will put in the required performance, giving United the strength to rest the number one goalkeeper at the club.
With the number of matches coming up before the end of the year, De Gea will be grateful of having a professional number two in Romero, giving him the time to recharge his batteries ahead of important matches. If United get the win, they could qualify for the round of 32 stage with two matches left, which could see youth tested with nothing to lose.
Defenders: Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Brandon Williams
The defence is an area which needs rotation. Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe are both injured and Harry Maguire would benefit from a rest, if allowed. This could see Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in the centre of midfield. The latter has been doing well recently, despite his collapsed move to Everton putting him in a poor frame of mind.
On the flanks, Ashley Young could play in the right-back position, giving Aaron Wan-Bissaka a rest as the club captain will be suspended for the clash with Brighton on Sunday. Brandon Williams could start in the left-back position, something that should have happened against Bournemouth at the weekend, rather than trust Young on the flank.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred
There is not a lot of rotation to be made in this team at this stage of the season with both Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic both on the sidelines through injury. Scott McTominay has been one of the stand out players in the squad recently, scoring two goals already this season and improving on a game by game basis.
Fred should also keep his place, not because the club lack other options but because he has been gaining confidence and showing what he can do in the midfield, which is good to see. Some suggest he has been terrible, despite showing promise, I guess there are so many critical supporters out there who won’t show any positivity.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Juan Mata, Daniel James
With the importance of changing the form of the team in the Premier League this season, resting Marcus Rashford, as he has led the line throughout the absence of Anthony Martial, is something that needs to happen. Hopefully, being on the bench could see him playing, if needed, or rested if he is not needed. Mason Greenwood should start.
The teenager is full of promise and him operating on the right-wing could be helpful with Daniel James playing on the left, which is where he started his run of form in the opening stages of the season. Juan Mata could play behind Martial, being the brain in the team flanked by pace, which should help him massively.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman is slowly finding his form once again after scoring twice in his last four appearances for the club. I would like to see him score more goals than he has done now that he is playing in the number nine role that Martial FC say he is good at. I will give him more time to find that form though and hope that he does.
The is a lack of creativity at the club, which could be one of the reasons for his inability to score goals every time he plays, so that is also there for the manager and the club to change. When Paul Pogba is back in action, if he ever is, should give more creativity, if the player wants to put in the effort. Other than that, the transfer window in January may provide something.
Substitutes: Lee Grant; Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Jesse Lingard, James Garner; Marcus Rashford, Tahith Chong
The bench could be important for this match, especially with United in action again three days later against Brighton. Victor Lindelof is injured to Harry Maguire should occupy a place on the bench, possible with Luke Shaw, who has been out for a long period of time. Lee Grant will be the substitute goalkeeper, although he should not be needed.
Jesse Lingard should be on the bench to offer experience, however, he’s not exactly offered much this season and is facing an uphill battle to offer anything this season. James Garner could offer something later on in the game, if needed. Tahith Chong scored twice (one deflected) and assisted another for the U23s this week, so should get a chance. Marcus Rashford could be rested completely, unless something is needed.