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Review & Ratings: Greenwood brace, Young and Mata’s penalty sank AZ Alkmaar; United win Europa League group

Manchester United beat AZ Alkmaar 4-0 at Old Trafford in the final group stage match of the UEFA Europa League. Ashley Young opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half before Mason Greenwood doubled the lead five minutes later. A penalty scored by Juan Mata came in the 62nd minute with Greenwood scoring the fourth goal of the match, ten and a half minutes after the opening goal. United have won their group.

The game had many similarities of the one which was played in the Netherlands back in October. It was a fraught first half with little to write home about. United started off the blocks in the second half and eight minutes later had their first goal of the game scored by Ashley Young and assisted by Juan Mata. United needed to keep their lead in the game ensuring that they topped the group.

United doubled their lead in the 58th minute through Mason Greenwood which showed the talent that the academy graduate has in his locker. He brought the ball under control on the edge of the box before smashing his effort into the back of the net. United then won a penalty through Greenwood four minutes later which Juan Mata took and buried to put United 3-0 up in the match. A great second half so far.

That was not it for United though, who scored a fourth goal, the second of the evening for Greenwood. Mata slotted the ball into the forward who then dropped as shoulder before firing into the back of the net at the near post. It was a great finish for the striker, who has scored six first team goals this season. Solskjaer will be proud of his toughly team this evening, who certainly did the club proud.

Manchester United

Review & Ratings: Greenwood brace, Young and Mata’s penalty sank AZ Alkmaar; United win Europa League group

The Argentinian goalkeeper did well against the Dutch side, keeping a clean sheet and not having a lot to do in the game, He is a safe pair of hands in rotation for David De Gea and should perhaps play against Colchester United next week.

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Review & Ratings: Greenwood brace, Young and Mata’s penalty sank AZ Alkmaar; United win Europa League group

The veteran winger-cum-fullback scored the opening goal of the game eight minutes into the second half. In the first half of the match, he was nearly caught in possession whihc could have been a costly goal to conceded, luckily United recovered. Young was replaced in the 68th minute by Ethan Laird.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

The defender played well alongside Harry Maguire for much of the match and with Phil Jones for 22 minutes plus added time. He did well and helped keep a clean sheet, which will be good going forward.

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5 Harry Maguire

The experienced defender did alright against AZ and helped keep the defence ticking over in the first half, not that there was much going on. United were 4-0 up at the time he was replaced by Phil Jones in the 68th minute of the match.

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33 Brandon Williams

The left-back continued his rise into the first team. playing a good game and getting involved in the action. He might not be fully up to speed as a first team player this season, but next season, he will have a lot of experience which could see him make this position his own.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian midfielder was back in action following a period of injury. He seemed slow and rusty and despite the lack of experienced midfielders in the team, might not play too much football this month as he can be easily exposed.

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37 James Garner

The academy graduate did well in the centre of midfield and will be trusted going forward from this game. United need midfield additions in January but Garner could be a competant player to utilise if they do not sign a player or need more midfielders.

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15 Andreas Pereira

The Belgian-born Brazilian was rather careless in the first half but as United grew into the second half, scoring four goals in just over ten minutes, Pereira showed his skillset. I think he is definitely a better playing in the final third of the pitch.

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8 Juan Mata

The Spanish midfielder seemed a bit slow at times and perhaps a few years ago, could have run riot in a game like this. However, he scored from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute of the match.

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11 Mason Greenwood

The 19-year-old had a great game against AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford. It was a fraught first half but in ten and a half minutes in the second half, United scored four goals, two of them from Greenwood, who has scored six first team goals this season. He won the penalty too, so could have been on a hat-trick. Solskjaer will be pleased with this lad.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman played an hour against AZ Alkmaar. He obviously needed the match fitness to be in the running to face Everton on Sunday. He did not score a goal or get an assist but played the game he needed to. United were 2-0 at the time Tahith Chong replaced him in the 60th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

44 Tahith Chong

Replaced Martial 60'. The winger played well for his 30-minute cameo and broke forward a few times, helping to get United ticking, which caught AZ a few times. A goo performance and one for his confidence.

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41 Ethan Laird

Replaced Young 68'. The right-back did well after his introduction. He was booked but was not a pushover for the Dutch side.

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4 Phil Jones

Replaced Maguire 68'. The central defender did well considering his lack of first team minutes this season.

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Goals: Ashley Young 53′, Mason Greenwood 58′, 64′, Juan Mata 62′

Assists: Juan Mata 53′, 64′

Manchester United: Romero; Young (Laird 68′), Tuanzebe, Maguire (Jones 68′), Williams; Matic, Garner; Pereira, Mata, Greenwood; Martial (Chong 60′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Fred, McTominay; Rashford

Bookings: Ethan Laird 82′; Jordie Clasie 28′, Fredrik Midtsjø 58′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, Mata and Greenwood lead the attack against AZ; Garner and Williams start

Manchester United are back in action on this evening, welcoming AZ Alkmaar to Old Trafford in the final UEFA Europa League group stage match this season. Both teams are through to the Round of 32 stage, which will commence next year – this match will decide which team tops the group, which is currently United, a point ahead of the Dutch side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to keep his winning run going.

In their last two matches, United has defeated Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Old Trafford and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, at the Etihad, with the same scoreline. These were two matches that the #OleOut brigade were gunning to be defeats, which is a shame for them as their fickle support seems to have been shown massively. Patience and stability is what is needed this season, not changing another manager.

Manchester United:

Romero;

Young, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Williams;

Matic, Garner, Pereira;

Mata, Martial, Greenwood

Substitutes:

Grant; Jones, Laird; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Chong

AZ Alkmaar:

Bizot;

Svenssoon, Clasie, Wuytens, Wijndal;

Midtsjo, Koopmeiners, de Wit;

Sugawara, Stengs, Idrissi

Substitutes:

de Boer; Vlaar, Ouwejan, Kramer; Reijnders; Druijf, Aboukhlal

United and AZ Alkmaar have played just once in the history of both clubs, a 0-0 draw in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League this season. There was literally nothing great from the match back in October and it was the only match in which United dropped points and failed to score in the competition this season. The match though will decide which teams tops the group, although both teams are safely through to the round of 32 stage of the competition next year.

How Manchester United could look against AZ Alkmaar; 4-2-3-1 – Greenwood leading the line, Rashford keeping his place, Tuanzebe starting?

Manchester United will face AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford on Thursday evening in their final UEFA Europa League group stage match. United currently top the group, albeit by one point with the Dutch side in second place. The match will decide the group winners, which could mean an easier opposition in the round of 32 stage of the competition, which begins in February. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping his side keeps their winning run going.

After beating both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the past week, the squad will be full of confidence to keep this run going, especially during a busy period of which no fewer than seven matches before the end of New Year’s Day. One question will be, how will Solskjaer have his team lined up to face AZ Alkmaar on Thursday evening? Here is one likely starting XI…

Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero

The Argentinian goalkeeper has not played for about a month, last starting in the 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade in this competition. He has recently returned to the bench after a brief layoff. This will be crucial for David De Gea, who will be able to have a break following last week which saw hims face Aston Villa (2-2 draw), Tottenham, Hotspur (2-1 victory) and Manchester City (2-1 victory). Romero is a player who can pull off a save just as good as De Gea, an ideal stand in goalkeeper.

Defenders: Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

I would presume that some rotation will happen in the defence, although some experience is needed to ensure the victory. As the U23s played on Monday evening, I doubt that Solskjaer will make wholesale changes. Ashley Young could start at right-back, giving Aaron Wan-Bissaka a rest ahead of Sunday’s visit of Everton. Brandon Williams could step in at left-back with Axel Tuanzebe replacing Victor Lindelof in the heart of defence, possible partnered with Harry Maguire.

Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

I don’t think there will be many changes in the midfield with few players to fill the void. I would like to see one of Dylan Levitt or James Garner involved but the latter played on Monday. I reckon both Fred and Scott McTominay will keep their places in the midfield, which would be good for both players as they have given their all in the last week. There could be some rest for them in the coming weeks when more players in this position are available. Paul Pogba’s return seems to keep getting put back, whatever is happening there?

Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford

I would expect Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford to keep their places in the attacking midfield area against AZ Alkmaar. Rashford is unplayable at this moment in time, scoring 13 goals in his last 14 appearances for both club and country. James has been a stand out player this season and got himself another assist against City at the weekend. Lingard has a way to go before he is considered a player in form again, but another appearance could give him the confidence to perform for his club again – he’s got to be running out of chances to shine again.

Striker: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood would be a great start against AZ Alkmaar. He’s a clinical striker with all the attributes to shine in his locker. He has scored four first team goals this season, which is a great start considering how quick his rise from U23 football came. This lad is going to be something special in the years to come, his his development continues. Anthony Martial recently came back from injury and started against City, scoring the second goal. Keeping him fresh is much-needed at this stage of the season. We don’t want him injured again as he’s really only just come back, again.

Substitutes: Lee Grant; Phil Jones, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Dylan Levitt; Anthony Martial

Solskjaer will need to have some able players on the bench to keep the team fresh and either find a goal, or two or keep United ahead, depending on what happens during the match. I would expect Lee Grant to be the substitute goalkeeper with Phil Jones and Luke Shaw as the defenders on the bench. Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira could be the attacking minded midfielders on the bench with Dylan Levitt maybe on the bench. Anthony Martial could well be the forward on the bench if he needs to be utilised.

Preview: Manchester United tasked with winning the group by beating AZ Alkmaar; youth to shine or fringe players given a chance?

Manchester United -v- AZ Alkmaar

UEFA Europa League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Thursday 12 December 2019, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Sandro Schärer Assistants: Stephane De Almeida; Bekim Zogaj Fourth Official: Fedayi San

Manchester United are back in action on Thursday evening, welcoming AZ Alkmaar to Old Trafford in the final UEFA Europa League group stage match this season. Both teams are through to the Round of 32 stage, which will commence next year – this match will decide which team tops the group, which is currently United, a point ahead of the Dutch side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to keep his winning run going.

In their last two matches, United has defeated Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Old Trafford and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, at the Etihad, with the same scoreline. These were two matches that the #OleOut brigade were gunning to be defeats, which is a shame for them as their fickle support seems to have been shown massively. Patience and stability is what is needed this season, not changing another manager.

Form: AZ Alkmaar are the team in much better form, undefeated in their last six matches but United have played much bigger teams in the past week, getting great results so will be boosted by that.

Manchester United: WWDLDW

Manchester City 2-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W, Aston Villa 2-2 D, Astana 2-1 L, Sheffield United 3-3 D, Brighton And Hove Albion 3-1 W

AZ Alkmaar: WWDWWW

PEC Zwolle 3-0 W, VVV-Venlo 1-0 W, Partizan Belgrade 2-2 D, FC Utrecht 3-0 W, Emmen 3-0 W, Astana 5-0 W

Top Scorers: Both United and AZ have scored many goals this season but Marcus Rashford is in form and full of confidence and if he plays, he could find the back of the net once again.

Manchester United Goals: 13 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 1 – Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Jesse Lingard, Own Goal, Victor Lindelof

United are currently on the back of two great results this season; beating both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the last week, rising to fifth in the Premier League table from a lowly ninth after drawing with Aston Villa in the match before these two. Solskjaer will be confident of his side getting a result and topping the group at the Theatre of Dreams, playing their last European fixture of 2019.

AZ Alkmaar Goals: 10 – Myron Boadu, 9 – Oussama Idrissi, 7 – Teun Koopmeiners, 4 – Calvin Stengs, 2 – Dani de Wit, Yukinari Sugawara, Ron Vlaar, 1 – Pantelis Hatzidiakos, Jonas Svensson

AZ Alkmaar are having a good season. Currently, they are second in the Eredivisie with 38 points, three points adrift of league leaders, Ajax. In their last six matches, the Dutch team are unbeaten, winning five times and drawing once; which was their last Europa League match against Partizan Belgrade. They will be seeking a much better match than the one in October, possible seeking to win the group themselves.

Team News: Solskjaer to be without a number of players due to injury; AZ Alkmaar without top scorer, Myron Boadu.

United will be without Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah as they bid to return to full fitness from knee injuries. Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot, and Nemanja Matic seem to be unlikely to feature in this match also. Paul Pogba also seems to be unlikely to be involved, which will continue to be a blow for both Solskjaer and United. It would seem that his availability keeps being rolled back for some reason; injured or not willing to play?

This match could see youth being given a chance to shine, despite most playing for the U23s on Monday evening in their 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion. AZ Alkmaar will be without top scorer Myron Boadu who is suspended for this match. United will have a battle on their hands though, which is what they need in order to keep their winning run going, which could see them end the year in style, which is much needed.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line supported by Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James against AZ Alkmaar?

I would imagine Solskjaer would like to make a number of changes in this game but still have a team capable of winning. However, with a lot of the talented youth players turning out to beat West Bromwich Albion for the U23s on Monday, this could suggest that many first team players, some on the fringes, could face Alkmaar at Old Trafford. Mason Greenwood could give Anthony Martial a rest after his injury, although he might need minutes on the pitch to continue his recovery.

Match Prediction: With United’s recent rise in form and two great results in the past week, this team should grab this match by the horns and win the group with relative ease.

United and AZ Alkmaar have played just once in the history of both clubs, a 0-0 draw in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League this season. There was literally nothing great from the match back in October and it was the only match in which United dropped points and failed to score in the competition this season. The match though will decide which teams tops the group, although both teams are safely through to the round of 32 stage of the competition next year.

Manchester United 2-1 AZ Alkmaar

copyright: JW