Preview: Mkhitaryan to inspire Manchester United to victory?

Old Trafford, Manchester

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 24th November 2016 – KO 20:05 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Manuel Gräfe (GER)

Assistant Referees: Holger Henschel (GER) and Guido Kleve (GER)

Additional Assistant Referees: Robert Hartmann (GER) and Sascha Stegemann (GER)

Fourth Official: Christian Gittelmann (GER)

Manchester United host Feyenoord on the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. Fresh from their 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the weekend, which felt like a defeat, United will need to turn the screws and ensure a result against the Dutch side in order to put them in contentions for a knockout stage place in the competition next year. Jose Mourinho has struggled with injury over the past month or so, which could end soon with Eric Bailly weeks away from returning, only to disappear again as the Ivory Coast play in the African Cup of Nations in January. Phil Jones has been a standout performer for United over their last two matches, the victory over Swansea City and the draw with Arsenal, starting to find his feet again in his return from his latest injury, which seems like he has been on the sidelines for the last three years.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back for United and could lead the line against the Dutch side, which could give Marcus Rashford the rest he needs to recuperate and stop a burn out happening, as he has seemed out of sorts recently. Anthony Martial needs to confidence to find his form again and starting against Feyenoord could well instill than in him ready for the double-header against West Ham United over the coming week in the Premier League (Sunday) and the EFL Cup (Wednesday). Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play some part in the match, hopefully from the start in a bit to regain some confidence after his poor start at his new club. He played against Fenerbahçe, albeit from the bench and before that he last played in the Manchester derby back in September. United will be heading into the busy festive period next week in which they will play seven matches throughout December, the busiest month of the season so far.

United, should they keep their heads like they did against Arsenal, should be able to get one over the Dutch side who helped see their start in the Europa League off to a bad start. Fenerbahçe earlier in the month did the same, which was a match United should have won, meaning they could have qualified with a win against Feyenoord, having a final match against Zorya Luhansk in the Ukraine to use players who have been on the fringes of the team so far this season. One thing is for sure, if United fail to win, their chances of securing qualification to the knockout stages will be slim.

Manchester United Form:- DWLDW

Arsenal 1-1 D, Swansea City 3-1 W, Fenerbahçe 2-1 L, Burnley 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W

Manchester United need to be playing like they did against Arsenal at Old Trafford at the weekend if they are to get the result they need against Feyenoord on Thursday night. They need to find an early goal, pressure the Dutch side and then find another goal, or two in order to insure themselves against the possibility of a draw. United will be thin on the ground, especially in defence, but the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan being included on the squad, hopefully starting, his inclusion could give United an attacking edge and then some confidence for the player to take into the Premier League, something which he may not see for a while.

Feyenoord Form:- WLDDW

Zwolle 3-0 W, Go Ahead Eagles 1-0 L, Zorya Luhansk 1-1 D, Heerenveen 2-2 D, Excelsior 4-0 W

Feyenoord started their season well, beaten only once in the Eredivisie this season and sit pretty at the top of the league, two points clear of Ajax. At home, Feyenoord beat United comfortably and that will need to change on Thursday evening if United are to get the result they need in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League, of face domestic football for the remainder of the season. Many suggested United should not take this competition seriously at the start of the season, but should United get knocked out, those same fans will be moaning.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

8 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Feyenoord Top Scorers:

10 – Nicolai Jørgensen, 6 – Jens Toornstra, 5 – Dirk Kuyt, 4 – Eljero Elia, 3 – Steven Berghuis, Karim El Ahmadi, 2 – Eric Botteghin, Tonny Vilhena, Michiel Kramer, 1 – Bilal Başaçıkoğlu, Rick Karsdorp, Terence Kongolo, Renato Tapia, Marko Vejinović

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Marouane Fellaini (calf), Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot)

Feyenoord Squad:

Manager: Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Goalkeepers: Kenneth Vermeer, Warner Hahn, Justin Bijlow, Pär Hansson, Brad Jones

Defenders: Rick Karsdorp, Sven van Beek, Terence Kongolo, Jan-Arie van der Heijden, Lucas Woudenberg, Bart Nieuwkoop, Wessel Dammers, Eric Botteghin

Midfielders: Marko Vejinović, Karim El Ahmadi, Tonny Vilhena, Steven Berghuis, Renato Tapia, Simon Gustafson, Jens Toornstra, Emil Hansson, Gustavo Hamer

Forwards: Dirk Kuyt, Nicolai Jørgensen, Eljero Elia, Bilal Başaçıkoğlu, Michiel Kramer, Rashaan Fernandes, Nigel Robertha, Mohamed El Hankouri

Injuries and Suspensions: N/A

Predicted Starting XI:

I expect Jose Mourinho will change his squad for the Feyenoord match being that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available after being suspended against Arsenal at the weekend, he has also confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be involved in the match, and considering he has been training with the team for weeks I expect him to start. Joe Riley missed the U23’s 2-0 defeat to Sunderland on Monday evening, so he could be a contender for a place in the left-back role, which could spell trouble for Luka Shaw, should he be given the chance and impress the manager, with Shaw being criticised in recent weeks for not manning up.

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Feyenoord

Manchester United played their best game of the season against Arsenal at Old Trafford at the weekend, this is something United need to continue into their next game, which is a must win match in order to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. United have two tough matches at home against West Ham United in the Premier League and the EFL Cup.

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