Preview: Manchester United aiming for victory over AZ Alkmaar as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims to avert recent poor form

AZ Alkmaar -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Cars Jeans Stadium, The Hague, Netherlands

Thursday 3 October 2019, KO 17:55 BST

Referee: Gediminas Mažeika  Assistants: Vytautas Šimkus; Vytenis Kazlauskas Fourth Official: Robertas Valikonis

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.

Form: One defeat in six matches for both United and AZ Alkmaar but the Dutch side are in much better form with four wins to United’s three.

Manchester United: DWLWWD

Arsenal 1-1 D, Rochdale 1-1 (5-3 pens) W, West Ham United 2-0 L, Astana 1-0 W, Leicester City 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D

AZ Alkmaar: WWWDWL

Heracles 2-0 W, Feyenoord 3-0 W, Den Haag 1-0 W, Partizan Belgrade 2-2 D, Sparta 5-1 W, Vitesse 2-1 L

Top Scorers: Daniel James is United’s top scorer in terms of goals from open play but he’s four goals behind the top scorers of AZ Alkmaar this season.

Manchester United: 11 goals scored by this United side this season, who could struggle against the Dutch high flyers.

Goals: 3 – Daniel James, Marcus Rashford, 2 – Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, 1 – Scott McTominay

This is going to be a tough season for United. They have not been able to find a second goal in any match in which they have scored since the 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea in the opening weekend of the season. Injuries have been unfortunate but in terms of leadership, desire, determination and fight, there is not a lot of this at United this season. More changes needed.

AZ Alkmaar: 24 goals scored this season for the Dutch side and they could be a thorn in the side of this lacklustre United team.

Goals: 7 – Myron Boadu, Oussama Idrissi, 6 – Calvin Stengs, 1 – Albert Gudmundsson, Teun Koopmeiners, Thomas Ouwejan, Stijn Wuytens

AZ Alkmaar currently sits in third-place in the Eredivisie after eight matches played, a point adrift of both Ajax (league leaders) and PSV Eindhoven, losing just one match this season. The Dutch side started their season on the 25 July in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, earning their group stage place by beating BK Häcken, Mariupol, and Antwerp.

Team News: Anthony Martial to miss the AZ Alkmaar match due to injury, Paul Pogba a doubt. Youth to take charge to show Solskjaer what they can do?

Solskjaer has confirmed that Anthony Martial will not return to the squad in time to face AZ Alkmaar on Thursday evening. There are also reports that Paul Pogba will miss the match with a recurrence of his ankle injury, not that much will be missed from him. Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed the 1-1 draw with Arsenal due to tonsillitis but could recover in time.

Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah will also miss the match with all three recovering from injuries. Diogo Dalot and Angel Gomes could both be called into action to face the Dutch side and Axel Tuanzebe could feature, whether in the centre of the defence or slotting into the left-back position as he did against Arsenal.

Predicted Starting XI: Changes to be expected with Newcastle on the horizon so youth could be trusted to get themselves experience on the road in Europe.

With United facing Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday, I would expect a number of changes from the draw with Arsenal with a view of players being rested for the trip to that ‘wee club’ in the North East. Mason Greenwood could lead the line, supported by Daniel James, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, whith will give these players experience in European matches which will help them along the way.

Match Prediction: Another Dutch European experience for United, who have never faced AZ Alkmaar; dangerous ground for Solskjaer?

United and AZ Alkmaar have never played a competitive match in the history of both clubs. However, the Dutch side has played English clubs in European competition, never actually beating an English side. United has played many Dutch sides in European competition, beating Ajax and Feyenoord in this competition in the 2016/17 season, in which United lifted the trophy in the final played in Sweden.

AZ Alkmaar 0-1 Manchester United

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.