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.
Key Players: United have a lot of talent in their squad, however, it is a bit thin in areas. Solskjaer’s side tasked with Dutch task to return with three points.
Manchester United: Sergio Romero, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo, Scott McTominay, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood
AZ Alkmaar: Marco Bizot, Stijn Wuytens, Teun Koopmeiners, Dani de Wit, Calvin Stengs, Myron Boadu, Oussama Idrissi
Key Battles: Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay and Mason Greenwood to come up against Myron Boadu, Dani de Wit, and Stijn Wuytens.
Key Battle One: Axel Tuanzebe versus Myron Boadu
Axel Tuanzebe has played in back to back matches for United, captaining the side in the Carabao Cup 5-3 penalty victory against Rochdale, his home town, and keeping a place in the team against Arsenal, albeit playing at left-back in the 1-1 draw. The England youth international has played well for United in the last two matches, this might be a test though.
Myron Boadu has scored seven goals for AZ Alkmaar this season and is joint top scorer with Oussama Idrissi. Tuanzebe, who could be partnered by Marcos Rojo, will need to be ready for this test as the Dutch side will be seeking victory in this game, having drawn 2-2 with Partizan Belgrade a fortnight ago. Tuanzebe could just prove himself here, given the chance.
Key Battle Two: Scott McTominay versus Dani de Wit
Scott McTominay scored the only United goal in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Monday and he has already been impressing this season. The 22-year-old has been the brunt of negativity over the past season or so, he was trusted by Jose Mourinho, perhaps you can see why! The Scotland international has the ability, passion and desire to make it at United.
Dani de Wit could be a player he may need to get through in order to score himself of play a killer pass into the box for Mason Greenwood, Daniel James or even Tahith Chong to aim their shot on goal. McTominay has played in the UEFA Champions League, against better players, so could be up for this battle on the road to get three points for United.
Key Battle Three: Mason Greenwood versus Stijn Wuytens
Mason Greenwood turned 18 on Tuesday after playing for 16 minutes against Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday evening, unable to add to his tally of two goals this season. Against Astana, he scored his first competitive goal, following up against Rochdale, his next appearance, with his second. Seeking more goals, Greenwood could be dangerous.
AZ Alkmaar defender, Stijn Wuytens could be problematic for Greenwood with the defender playing some good football recently with the Dutch side aiming to start an early challenge with league leaders Ajax and second played (based on goal difference) PSV Eindhoven. Also, with the club seeking a first win in the Europa League, Greenwood might have a big challenge on his hands to find the back of the net for United.