Manchester United will welcome Omonia Nicosia to Old Trafford on Thursday evening in the fourth group stage clash of the UEFA Europa League this season. United beat the Cypriot side 3-2 in Nicosia last week after a hard-fought clash, coming from behind and protecting their victory.
United all did the same with Everton in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday evening, coming from behind to earn all three points in the match, winning 2-1. Cristiano Ronaldo was seeking his 700th club career goal against Omonia, finding that against Everton.
The Cypriot side will be heading to Old Trafford for the first time, seeking to get their first points in the bak in the European competition after three defeats in their opening three matches. United sit second in the group with Real Sociedad at the top of the group at this stage.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea seems to be the best option to start at this stage with Tom Heaton yet to be involved this season and Martin Dubravka not in the match day squad against Everton on Sunday. Granted, he could be available in this match but will be ineligible to face Newcastle on Sunday.
De Gea played well against Everton and actually left his area to stop United from getting under pressure, which was good to see. Perhaps you can teach and old dog new tricks? De Gea is perhaps not the future for United, but he is the now.
Granted, Ten Hag will have plans for what he wants to do with the goalkeeper position at United and De Gea may well be that plan or it could be Dean Henderson or someone new. That will be something that we see when it happens and must get behind that.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
Ten Hag could have a strong defence against Omonia with Raphael Varane returning in the last minutes against Everton which would be good news, although Victor Lindelof did well but was more settled against Everton that he was against Omani last week.
Lisandro Martinez also needs to be starting as he brings something to this defence and does not panic – as he showed against Everton, especially in the last minutes as Everton were pushing to find that equaliser that they have found before. United need him in all big matches.
Every match is going to be a big one at this stage of the season though. In the fullback positions, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw should be starting. Dalot has been a mainstay this season and Shaw showed some good form on Sunday, which puts him in a starting position for me.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
United’s midfield has had some big problems this season with so much criticism aimed at Casemiro. The Brazilian committed a major error against Everton with allowed them to open the scoring on Sunday but he grew into the game and made an massive impact.
He was even named the Man of the Match which shows that he has started to settle in. He should be a definite starter against Omonia, his third in a row which should help him more. You have to play to settle at a club and not playing is not going to help.
With Scott McTominay suspended for Sunday’s match, he could well start against Omonia but I think Christian Eriksen would be the better option, although he will need to be rested with nine matches to play after this one before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next month.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Rashford
I would expect to see the likes of Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford starting against Omonia as United need to get a result in this match. Should United take the lead at Old Trafford, substitutions could be made to give other attacking players a chance.
Antony has three goals in his first three Premier League appearances and is still yet to score in the Europa League this season. After his start to the season, he will be in fine fettle and seeking to find more goals for the club in all competition they play in.
Bruno Fernandes iss till seeking to get his season started despite some decent performances for the club. I am sure he will get there in the end. Marcus Rashford is a player in good form having five goals this season, beating what he scored last season – he should be on six though.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 700th club career goal against Everton on Sunday. He tried to reach that feat against Omonia Nicosia last Thursday but it just was not coming for him. Now that he has that elusive goal in the bag, he could start to find more goals.
That is what will be needed for United now that Anthony Martial has another injury. The Frenchman lasted less than half an hour against Everton but managed to get an assist for United’s first goal of the match. But with that kind of injury record, United need another talisman.
Ronaldo could be just that with his 24 goals in all competitions last season but this United side need a few more matches to build momentum again following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the fact that two Premier League matches were postponed just before an international break.
Substitutes: Heaton, Dubravka; Lindelof, Malacia; Fred, Pellistri, McTominay, Iqbal; Sancho, Elanga, Garnacho, McNeill
United will be able to name 12 substitutes on the bench in the Europa League, using five of them in the match. With injuries like they are two goalkeepers could be on the bench. This could be Tome Heaton and Martin Dubravka although his absence from the weekend was unexpected.
In defence, United could be left with Victor Lindelof and Tyrell Malacia with Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw set to start. In midfield, Fred, Facundo Pellistri, Scott McTominay, who is suspended for Sunday’s match and Zidane Iqbal could all be called upon.
In attack, where United have perhaps the best qualities in the squad, United could well see Jadon Sancho, Anthony Elanga, Alejandro Garnacho and Charlie McNeill in reserve should changes need to be made at Old Trafford. United should have enough to get the win in this match.
Written by John Walker