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Predicted XI: [4-3-3] De Gea to captain United? Diallo, Greenwood and Rashford to spearhead attack against Leicester City?

Manchester United continue their tough week in the Premier League by welcoming Leicester City to the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already confirmed their place in the top four this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side are not guaranteed anything at this stage and will need to win to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, or face the option of slipping out of the Champions s League places, which is where they want to be. United need to reach 75 points to confirm their second-placed finish in the league this season.

United have progressed this season, no matter what the negative, agenda-driven supporters on social media say. Sometimes when you are that set by an agenda, you do not want to see anything else, therefore believe the agenda. United have already qualified for the Champions League, need five more points to secure second-placed in the league and ended their semi-final hoodoo after reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Villarreal on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. United have scored more than 100 goals this season and look to be on the rise. Don’t let the agenda driven muppets get you down.

How United have faired against Leicester City in the Premier League.

United and Leicester have played 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United have scored a total of 62 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 24 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets in total against Leicester with the Foxes keeping just two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 38 yellow cards with one red card also being shown. Leicester have been shown 35 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown. United have an advantage based on these statistics.

United and Leicester met at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day this season, resulting in a 2-2 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 23rd minute, Harvey Barnes equalising in the 31st minute, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead in the 79th minute. However, an own goal by Axel Tuanzebe in the 85th minute meant the teams took a point each. In this fixture last season, at Old Trafford, United won 1-0 with e penalty scored by Rashford in the eighth minute of the match. United were also beaten by Leicester in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season, so will be looking to avenge that result on Tuesday.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea sat out of the 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday after featuring for United in the 3-2 defeat to AS Roma, which earned the club an 8-5 aggregate victory and therefore a place in the UEFA Europa League final against Villarreal on the 26 May 2021 in Gdansk. United will need to rotate players this week, therefore De Gea should start against Leicester City at Old Trafford, in which United will need a win start to secure their second-placed finish in the Premier League this season. De Gea played well in Rome and made some very important saves to keep his side in the game, and therefore win. His experience and class could well be required against Leicester, whose season could be falling apart after their defeat to Newcastle United.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles

Solskjaer will need to rotate his defence, not only because this is the second of three matches in five day period but because Harry Maguire received an ankle injury against Villa on Sunday. Therefore, Aaron Wan-Bissaka should keep his place at right back with Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly forming a central defensive partnership. Alex Telles could also start at left-back with Luke Shaw getting a rest ahead of the Liverpool clash on Thursday. United have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season and need just four points to secure their second-placed position. Not only that, winning could add further pressure to Manchester City’s title charge, which will show whether they are a great team or not, as the media will proclaim.

Midfield: Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

The midfield will be important against Leicester, as it was when they faced them in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the competition. A three-man midfield might be worth fielding in this match and the likes of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba could be the right fit for this match. Matic has not played a lot of minutes this season and seems to be a player to bring on in the late stages of matches to protect a lead and help the defence. However, he has a lot to give and could well help United for a period of time. Of course, he may not last the full 90 minutes with Leicester’s young side pressuring him. Paul Pogba will give his all and Van de Beek will need the regular match time to find his feet at the club.

Forwards: Amad Diallo, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford

A 4-3-3 formation could be a good change for United at this stage of the season, giving a much stronger midfield, without the pivot. Mason Greenwood could lead the attack as the lone striker in this formation, fresh from his goal against Villa which saw him break Wayne Rooney’s record of 15 goals as a teenager for United, scoring his 16th Premier League goal. Amad Diallo was withdrawn from the match day squad against Villa and could well be ready to start for his club in a match that will have less pressure on him. He needs to start at some time – it might work well for him and United. Marcus Rashford could start on the left, with Daniel James injured, although Solskjaer might decide to bring some youth players into the squad.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Scott Mctominay; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Elanga

Three substitutes is all Solskjaer will have in the Premier League, so he will need to pack his bench with players who can make an impact. Dean Henderson will no doubt be on the bench, refreshing himself to start against Liverpool on Thursday. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams could be available with at least one of them expected to be used. In midfield, Juan Mata, who could actually start, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Scott Mctominay could also be available, if required – there is a good chance they could be. In attack, Edinson Cavani could be kept for Thursday with Anthony Elanga also added to the squad, depending on whether he plays for the U23s on Monday evening as they play their last Premier League 2 fixture of the season.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Champions League confirmed with United close to finishing second. Time to beat Leicester City?

Manchester United -v- Leicester City

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 11 May 2021, KO 18:00 BST

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West

Fourth Official: Mike Dean

VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Marc Perry

Manchester United continue their tough week in the Premier League by welcoming Leicester City to the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already confirmed their place in the top four this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side are not guaranteed anything at this stage and will need to win to make it easier to finish in the top four this season, or face the option of slipping out of the Champions s League places, which is where they want to be. United need to reach 75 points to confirm their second-placed finish in the league this season.

United have progressed this season, no matter what the negative, agenda-driven supporters on social media say. Sometimes when you are that set by an agenda, you do not want to see anything else, therefore believe the agenda. United have already qualified for the Champions League, need five more points to secure second-placed in the league and ended their semi-final hoodoo after reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Villarreal on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. United have scored more than 100 goals this season and look to be on the rise. Don’t let the agenda driven muppets get you down.

Manchester United: WLWDWW

Aston Villa 3-1 W, AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W

Leicester City: LDWWWL

Newcastle United 4-2 L, Southampton 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 2-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 3-0 W, Southampton 1-0 W, West Ham United 3-2 L

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood have scored 73 goals between them this season with Leicester City’s whole squad scoring 89 goals this season.

Manchester United Goals: 27 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 15 – Edinson Cavani, 11 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

It will be very hard to deny that United have progressed this season. They currently have 70 points in the Premier League this season – four more than last season, and have already qualified for next seasons UEFA Champions League, which was achieved after the final match of the season last season. In the last six matches, United have won four, drawn once and lost once, with the defeat coming against AS Roma last week with United earning a place in the UEFA Europa League final on aggregate. United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven, keeping two clean sheets.

Leicester City Goals: 18 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 15 – Jamie Vardy, 13 – Harvey Barnes, 11 – James Maddison, 8 – Youri Tielemans, 4 – Own Goal, 3 – James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, 2 – Marc Albrighton, Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, Dennis Praet, Cengiz Ünder, 1 – Daniel Amartey, Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas

Leicester are not have a great end to the season.They have not won in the last two matches, losing to Newcastle United and drawing with Southampton, after beating them in the FA Cup semi-final. They weekend they will take on Chelsea for the FA Cup, which could end their season on a high, but they will need to be on top of their game. There is a chance that Brendan Rodgers’ side could miss out on Champions League football against next season with Chelsea leapfrogging them this weekend after they beat Manchester City. Leicester will need to beat United to have a chance of staying in the top four ahead of their last two matches.

Team News: Four players out of action for United with Leicester also likely to miss for players ahead of the Old Trafford clash on Tuesday evening.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Daniel James (other) have all been ruled out for the foreseeable future, although Martial is back in individual training and could be back in action for the final match of the season, which will give United a boost ahead of the UEFA Europa League final. Harry Maguire (ankle) came off against Aston Villa on Sunday and has already been ruled out of the clash with his former club but there is much hope that his injury is not as bad as it seems, although he will undergo a scan of his ankle on Monday to find out the seriousness of the injury. Hopefully he could be back in action against Liverpool.

Wes Morgan (lower back), Harvey Barnes (knee) and James Justin (knee) have all been ruled out of the visit to Old Trafford to face United for the third time this season. Jonny Evans (ankle/foot) is currently being assessed regarding his injury and has a 50% chance of featuring against his former club. However, it is likely that he too will miss the clash with United. Leicester were dealt a blow in the 4-2 defeat to Newcastle United on Friday evening and now sit fourth in the Premier League with Chelsea leapfrogging them after their victory over Manchester City on Saturday. It is possible that Leicester lose a UEFA Champions League position again.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer will need to rest players against Leicester keeping his side fresh for the Liverpool clash on Thursday.

Solskjaer will need to rest a number of his players ahead of the clash with Liverpool on Thursday evening with United playing three Premier League matches in five days after beating Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. David De Gea should return in goal having faces AS Roma on Thursday evening. Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles could all start with Aaron Wan-Bissaka keeping his place in defence. In midfield, a three-man midfield of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, keeping his place from Sunday could help with Amad Diallo, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford linking up as a three-man attack.

Match Prediction: 29 matches played between United and Leicester in the Premier League with United winning 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United looking to avenge FA Cup defeat?

United and Leicester have played 29 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 19 times, drawing eight times and losing twice. United have scored a total of 62 goals, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Leicester have scored 24 goals, winning two penalties and scoring both of them. United have kept 14 clean sheets in total against Leicester with the Foxes keeping just two. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 38 yellow cards with one red card also being shown. Leicester have been shown 35 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown. United have an advantage based on these statistics.

United and Leicester met at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day this season, resulting in a 2-2 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 23rd minute, Harvey Barnes equalising in the 31st minute, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead in the 79th minute. However, an own goal by Axel Tuanzebe in the 85th minute meant the teams took a point each. In this fixture last season, at Old Trafford, United won 1-0 with e penalty scored by Rashford in the eighth minute of the match. United were also beaten by Leicester in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup this season, so will be looking to avenge that result on Tuesday.

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Fernandes, Greenwood and Cavani save the day for United at Villa; City’s title celebration delayed once again…

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bertrand Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match which meant that United had to come from behind again, winning 31 points from these situations in the league this season. Bruno Fernandes equalised form the penalty spot in the 52nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood putting United ahead four minutes later. United scored a third through Edinson Cavani in the 87th minute just before Ollie Watkins got himself sent off for a dive, earning a second yellow card in the match. Three more points well deserved at the Villa.

It was a good start for United against Villa. Marcus Rashford had an attempt blocked in the fifth minute of the match which was played in by Paul Pogba. A minute later, Luke Shaw was on the attack for United, played in by Rashford but his shot was saved by Emiliano Martinez. Villa then had a chance through Anwar El Ghazi, whose shot was off target. Fred was then the next United player to have a chance, which forced another save from Martinez. United seemed determined to get something early on and were continuing to go for it. In the twelfth minute, both Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore had chances but both shots were blocked.

In the 16th minute, Bruno Fernandes had a chance to find his 27th goal of the season, playing in by Rashford and firing towards goal from the left of the six-yard box but it was off target. United were having plenty of chances in the early stages of the half but would need to do better. Villa took the lead in the 24th minute of the match, two minutes after Mason Greenwood’s effort, with Traore finding the back of the net with a stunning finish. United would need to battle back once again this season, which is something they have done time and time again to win matches both at home and on the road.

United were creating themselves many chances but Villa were also pressing forward. Fernandes had another shot on goal in the 35th minute of the match but it was too high to hit the target after Rashford played the ball into him. In the 40th minute of the match, Greenwood ran the ball towards the box and played it in to Pogba, who tried to find the back of the net with the Villa defence panicking and managing to clear the danger with Pogba still searching for a goal. United then started to press high up the pitch with Harry Maguire, who passed the ball to Pogba, who again lost possession with Villa then countering United’s attack.

United did not seem to get anything positive in the first half, having a fair few chances with nine shots one goal and four of those on target, also having the Lion’s share of possession but they needed to show more desire in the second half. At the end of the first half, Ollie Watkins was booked for a late challenge on Maguire with the United defender clearing the ball before the challenge came in. United needed to be wary of this Villa side, who did everything right in the first half. Perhaps Solskjaer would need to say something during the break to get his side fired up for the second half with Manchester City 45 minutes away from winning the league.

There were no changes from either side at the start of the second half but United would need to work much harder to get something from this match. United started to attack again, as they were doing in the first half and Pogba worked his way into the box, threatening on the ball. Douglas Luiz fouled the Frenchman and the referee awarded a penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted, scoring his 27th goal for the club in all competitions this season. City would need to wait before celebrating their title win. It was a great finish by Fernandes who made the goalkeeper dive in the wrong direction, hitting the back of the net at the near post.

Four minutes after equalising, United were ahead for the first time in this match. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played the ball into Greenwood, who then carried the ball before firing his left-footed shot from the right side of the box into the bottom corner of the net. It was Greenwood’s 11th goal of the season but also his 16th in the Premier League as a teenager, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record for the club which is great to see. In the 65th minute of the match, Greenwood was replaced by Edinson Cavani, with United seeking to see this match out and drive for the victory. Harry Maguire was booked in the 67th minute of the match with United still on top.

Maguire seemed to get a knock a few times and despite coming back on after some treatment, came back on but could not continue. Solskjaer replaced him with Eric Bailly, which was a shame as he was not able to play every minute in the Premier League, which he had done since he signed for the club. However, that was likely to end this week anyway. Hopefully the captain is fine to continue for the club later this week against Liverpool. It was expected that he would be rested against Leicester City anyway, as that was the impression the Solskjaer gave on Friday. In the 86th minute, Nemanja Matic replaced Fernandes with United looking to keep their lead.

Ollie Watkins tried to get one over Dean Henderson in the 89th minute but Henderson pulled his leg back as Watkins was diving. It was suggested that it was a penalty but the referee saw it the other way, as did VAR and the striker, already on a yellow from the first half was send off and will miss the next match for his club. There is no need to dive when you are losing. If a United player did this, every football supporter would be moaning about it. In this instance, many will say nothing. United deserved their win and will be looking ahead to the Leicester match now with one full day to recover before match day.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Unfortunate to concede the opening goal which saw Villa take the lead. Saw his side scored three in the second half, therefore winning 31 points from behind in the league this season. Also saw Watkins send off for a dive, aiming to win a penalty. Also prevented an own goal by Maguire.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Needs to offer more going forward. Got an assist for Greenwood's goal which put United ahead. His defensive ability cannot be questioned - that is the strong part of his game.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Should have stopped Traore ahead of his goal but acted weakly. Also gifted Watkins a chance to equalise, so he needs to brush up on his defence a bit more.

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5 Harry Maguire

Did well against Villa and seemed to be at the top of his game at times. Got forward when he could and led his side well. Seemed to get a knock in the second half and could not continue. Was replaced by Bailly in the 78th minute.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played well in attack and had a shot on goal, drawing a save. He should be proud of his performances this season. He is arguably the best left-back in the country right now.

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17 Fred

Despite his performances this season, this was not one of the better ones. Needs to buck his ideas up at the club or could find himself benched or sold in the summer if a better player comes along.

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39 Scott McTominay

Was not his best performance for United and I feel he should find a way to find his form as he has shown glimpses of that this season, especially if he wants to start in Gdansk in just over a fortnight.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had some involvement in the match but does not seem to have benefited from more than a week with no football. Got an assist for Cavani's goal at the end of the match but needs to start scoring himself.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Performed towards the best of his ability and had a few shots on goal in the first half. Scored the penalty, which saw United level in the 52nd minute of the match and helped United find another which happened minutes later. He was replaced by Matic in the 86th minute of the match with United seeing out their lead, but they scored a minute after the substitution, securing their lead and win.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well with Shaw just behind him and got into some good positions. Won the penalty which saw United go level. Lost the ball at times, but it happens.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Played well as the striker against Villa. Was unlucky at times but got United ahead in the 56th minute of the match, scoring his 11th goal of the season and breaking Rooney's record of 15 Premier League goals as a teenager at the club. He was replaced by Cavani in the 65th minute.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 65'. Unplayable. Perhaps should have started but fatigue from Thursday needs to be managed, so it was right for him not to. Scored his 15th goal of the season, scoring his eighth goal in seven matches.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Maguire 78'. Needs a good defensive outing, which he might get on Tuesday. Made some last-ditch blocks and clearances.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fernandes 86'. Came on to sure up the defence and did what he needed to do, even if it was a cameo appearance.

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Goals: Bertrand Traore 24′; Bruno Fernandes 52′ penalty, Mason Greenwood 56′, Edinson Cavani 87′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 56′, Marcus Rashford 87′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (Bailly 78′), Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes (Matic 86′), Pogba; Greenwood (Cavani 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Van de Beek

Bookings: Ollie Watkins 45+1′, 89′ s/o, John McGinn 79′; Harry Maguire 67′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Rashford leads the attack against Villa; Greenwood, Fernandes and Pogba in support

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett;

Luiz, McGinn;

Traore, Barkley, El Ghazi;

Watkins

Substitutes:

Heaton; Elmohamady, Hause; Nakamba, Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka; Wesley, Davis

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI against Aston Villa: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Rashford, Fernandes and Diallo to start; Cavani on the bench?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

How United have faired against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Aston Villa in the Premier League at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson was rested against AS Roma on Thursday evening and has not played since the 0-0 draw with Leeds United almost a fortnight ago, so he will be raring to go against Aston Villa this weekend. So far this season, Henderson has made 23 appearances for United, conceding 16 goals and keeping 13 clean sheets. His commanding of his area is top class but he has some way to go before he’s considered as a world class goalkeeper. That said, there are supporters out there that would rather United broke a record to sign a new goalkeeper for the club – these people have no patience and don’t seem to want anything special. Imagine if these people were alive when the Class of 1992 emerged from the academy.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence did not look all that great against Roma on Thursday evening, conceding three goals altogether but two of them just three minutes apart. Eric Bailly played after not featuring for United before the last international break. Against Villa, who are safe in the Premier League, United could be faced with a few problems. Harry Maguire could break records this season playing every minute of Premier League football since he signed but these next three matches could put an end to that. Victor Lindelof needs to play alongside the captain with both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw playing in the fullback positions. United have done well this season but at this stage, they should be getting the results that need to end the season positively.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is a problem area for United. There are players at the club that do not suit the formation and others that need to play more football in order to settle in at the club. The pivot may not be the best formation to use but it is a formation that Solskjaer has utilised for much of his time at the club. Against Villa, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba should be starting. McTominay was rested against Roma on Thursday and is one of a small number of players who have been rested recently and will be able to cope with the week that lies ahead for United with three Premier League matches between Sunday and Thursday. United have the players, in varying abilities and hopefully there will be some sort of plan in rotation.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

With three Premier League matches in the next five days form the Villa clash, United will need to rotate their players. Amad Diallo should be given more time on the pitch, having played just 96 minutes of first team action this season, scoring one goal. At U23 level, he has played 270 minutes of football, scoring four goals and three assists, so there is some ability in there. Playing him now would be good for him and the team. Bruno Fernandes will start too with United needing another win in the league with him scoring 26 goals and 17 assists so far this season. Marcus Rashford should play in the left-wing role he has played in this season, where he has scored 20 goals and 13 assists. This could work for United against Villa.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has ten goals and six assists to his name this season with half of his goals in the Premier League alone. Last season, Greenwood scored 17 goals and four assists, with ten goals coming in the Premier League alone, so if he plays his part in the remaining five matches of the season, he could match his goal tally from last season (in the league) and possibly seek to better it. United have six more matches until the end of the season with the UEFA Europa League final also added to their fixture list. Edinson Cavani is the best striker at the club this season, but having played on Thursday evening, I think he will be on the bench for this match. I reckon Marcus Rashford will be starting as the lone striker though.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani

Solskjaer will have just three substitutions in the Premier League for the remainder of the season and with three three matches over a five-day period, rotation will be key. David De Gea should be back on the bench after his heroics against Roma. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be available. In midfield, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could be called upon if they are needed (as they will at times over this five-day period). In attack, United will have the services of Edinson Cavani, whose 14 goals and four assists have helped a lot this season and with him being in form, also needing rest, his appearances this week could be largely from the bench, which will be good for United.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Aston Villa v Manchester United – Premier League; the start of a busy five days

Aston Villa -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Villa Park, Birmingham

Sunday 9 May 2021, KO 14:05 BST

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Jarred Gillett Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United: LWDWWW

AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 W

Aston Villa: WDLLWL

Everton 2-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 D, Manchester City 2-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 L, Fulham 3-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 L

Top Scorers: Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani and Greenwood have scored 70 goals between them this season. Aston Villa have scored just 55 goals so far this season.

Manchester United Goals: 26 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 14 – Edinson Cavani, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United were defeated for the first time in the Europa League on Thursday evening, losing 3-2 to AS Roma but winning 8-5 on aggregate, reaching the final of the competition this season where they will face Villarreal. United have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six matches. United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven – keeping two clean sheets. Edinson Cavani is starting to catch up to Marcus Rashford, with 14 goals scored this season (Rashford is on 20). He has scored seven goals in the last six matches, which is great form. United will be seeking another win against Villa this weekend, heading into another busy week.

Aston Villa Goals: 15 – Ollie Watkins, 9 – Anwar El Ghazi, 7 – Jack Grealish, 6 – Bertrand Traoré, 3 – Ross Barkley, 2 – Keinan Davis, Own Goal, Ezri Konsa, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings, Trézéguet, 1 – Louie Barry, Kortney Hause, Conor Hourihane

Villa have had a mixed season and a lot of their recent results could have been better if Jack Grealish was fit to play for the club. In their last six matches, they have won twice, drawn once and lost three times. They have scored nine goals, conceded ten goals and kept no clean sheets. That is not good form when having to face United, even if they are playing at home. Villa have beaten United three times in the Premier League, twice at Villa Park but the last time was on the 19 August 1995 with Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke scoring the goals for Villa and David Beckham scoring a consolation for United.

Team News: Three players likely to be out for United with three also expected to be out for Villa – this match will be tough for both teams but United should have the edge over Villa.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Daniel James (other) have all been ruled out of the clash with Villa this weekend in the Premier League. United have not been hit with any other injuries ahead of the three Premier League matches in the next week (Aston Villa, Leicester City and Liverpool) and there will have to be rotation during this week as not every player will have 90 minutes in them. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Amad Diallo and Scott McTominay were all rested against Roma with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw both coming off at half time – so Solskjaer has options for this match.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan (knee) has been ruled out of the clash with United at Villa Park on Sunday. Morgan Sanson (knee) has a 50% chance and Jack Grealish (calf/shin) has a 25% chance of being available for the visit of United, which does not look all that good, unless Dean Smith has something up his sleeve. Villa have been missing Grealish over the past few months and if he can be fit for the clash with United, it would be a big boost for both the player and the club at this stage of the season. Villa sit in tenth place in the league, at the time of writing and they could finish above Arsenal if they play their cards right.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line against Aston Villa? Edinson Cavani on the bench after Thursday’s brace which saw him score seven goals in six matches.

Solskjaer will need to rotate his side from Thursday evening, also keeping in mind that the club will face Leicester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, then Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams on Thursday evening. It is a possibility that Harry Maguire may not play in all Premier League matches since he signed for the club, which could see the record remain with Gary Pallister. Mason Greenwood could lead the line in the match with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Amad Diallo supporting him. Diallo will need to play at some point and there is no time like the present. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Diallo will be rested after not featuring for the club on Thursday evening. Tuesday might be a different problem though.

Match Prediction: United and Villa have played 51 Premier League matches with United winning 36, drawing 12 and losing just three times.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: De Gea and Cavani were the light in Rome. United lost the match 3-2 but won 8-5 on aggregate; Gdansk here we come

Manchester United were beaten 3-2 by AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening, but won the semi-final 8-5 on aggregate to reach the final of the UEFA Europa League where they will face Spanish side Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday 26 May 2021. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring in the 39th minute of the match with United leading at the break. In three minutes in the second half Edin Džeko and Bryan Cristante put Roma in the lead. Cavani then levelled in the 68th minute for United. The draw was not enough for Roma with Nicola Zalewski scoring the winner seven minutes from time.

United started out well against Roma but the Italian side soon got themselves into the match and threatened United with David De Gea performing a great save to deny them from their first goal of the match. United got forward a few times with Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani both playing well but the Uruguayan, who had a good shot on goal, missed the target, which was a shame. In the 18th minute of the match, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was booked for a challenge, meaning he will need to keep his head this evening. Roma had a few more chances on goal but De Gea held firm. Chris Smalling had to go off injured in the 30th minute.

United opened the scoring in the match in the 39th minute through none other than Edinson Cavani, who scored his 13th goal of the season. A wonderful flick from Bruno Fernandes ended up with the ball being played into Fred. The Brazilian then found the feet of Cavani who took a touch of the ball before sending it into the neck of the net with his right foot. Antonio Mirante was only able to watch the ball hit the back of his net. Roma were in a precarious position with a five-goal deficit with this goal but United will not be happy with just one goal. They should ideally be seeking to score another, nullifying Roma’s away goals from last week.

United had a few more chances to double their lead before the end of the first half, which had three minutes added on. Solskjaer will take his team into the dressing room and it will probably be less fierce in there than it was at Old Trafford last week with United 2-1 down at the end of the first half. Fernandes was a player that was involved a lot in the build up of chances, also being at the end of others. He had a great chance to get a goal in the first half but tried something spectacular and it did not work for him – ending up in a heap in the penalty box. But it was not the end of the world for him. He will get more chances in this match.

Solskjaer made a double substitution during the break with saw Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka replaced by Alex Telles and Brandon Williams. It may not have been the best thought out change as Roma seemed to be getting the better of both fullbacks as they equalised through Edin Džeko on the 57th minute then took the lead through Lorenzo Pellegrini three minutes later. If it was not for De Gea making some great saves, Džeko could have scored a hat-trick with Roma back in the hunt of making the final of the UEFA Europa League this season. As it stands though, United were still 7-4 up on aggregate and needing a few goals themselves.

In the 68th minute of the match, United drew level on the evening through Cavani, scoring his 14th goal of the season, assisted by Fernandes, with his 17th assist of the season. Despite a shocking period of the match where United conceded two goals in three minutes, United seemed to weather the storm and score a second goal themselves, which is all they needed to do, eradicating Roma’s away goals from last week. Cavani was seemingly on a hat-trick but he was replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 74th minute of the match with United watching themselves and possibly utilising Rashford to keep them in with a chance of scoring goals.

United conceded a third goal in the 83rd minute of the match through debutant Nicola Zalewski, who was assisted by Davide Santon. It was the goal that put Roma 3-2 up on the night but still 8-5 down on aggregate. 13 goals had been scored in the semi-final clash over the two legs, which shows the ability of both teams. United needed to watch themselves though as De Gea was becoming the Man of the Match, despite the goals scored as he had saved so many more. Solskjaer made his fifth substitution in the 84th minute of the match with Juan Mata replacing Fernandes, who perhaps could have been rested a lot earlier in the match.

The match seemed to drop off a little as Roma saw the clock run down, along with the fact they still need three more goals from this match. Brandon Williams was booked in the second minute of added time, United’s fourth booking of the match. It was a shame United lost this match but winning 8-5 on aggregate is not something to be laughed at as the work was done in the first leg of the match. United will face Villarreal in the final of the UEFA Europa League in Gdansk, Poland as Arsenal could not score a single goal at home to add to the goal they scored in their 2-1 defeat in the first leg. No European football for Arsenal, unless there is a miracle.

United will now get themselves ready for the Premier League clash with Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday, which is going to be a must-win match for Solskjaer’s side with them needing to secure a second-placed finish in the league this season. United then face Leicester City at Old Trafford two days later, then Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams two days after that – a rescheduled match from last Sunday after the match was postponed. United will then have four days rest before facing Fulham at Old Trafford on the 18th May with five days before their final league match of the season away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one made many great saves to deny Roma in the first half of the match. He conceded twice in three minutes, which made United change the game with Cavani getting an equaliser. Conceded a third in the 83rd minute which saw United lose on the night but advance 8-5 on aggregate.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The right back was booked in the 18th minute for a challenge. He did what he needed to do in defence but was replaced by Williams during the half time break.

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3 Eric Bailly

He was not good enough this evening. He has a lot of work to challenge to become the partner of Maguire. Conceded many fouls and did not do well against Džeko.

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5 Harry Maguire

Made a few good clearances when Roma pressured United. I think Lindelof will play next to him in the final. That partnership is more assured at this time.

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23 Luke Shaw

Did well in the first half as United got forward a lot of the time but also saw many Roma chances, getting caught out a few times. Was replaced by Telles at the break.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Made a rare start. Pushed out to the left as he did not do well in midfield. Created something for Fernandes but that was all. Needs more time on the pitch to gain momentum.

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17 Fred

Got an assist for Cavani's opener. Seemed t revert back to the Fred we normally see after that. Booked too, which was not great for United.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Got two chances on goal either side of the break. The experience from tonight will go a long way for him. I feel he should have at least scored one goal this evening. It was his 100th appearance and there will be many more ahead for him.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Did well with Cavani and got another assist to his name as Cavani scored his second of the evening. Did well as an attacking player. Was replaced by Mata in the 84th minute.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman played well in the first half, helping United to get forward. He was targeted a little by the Roma players. With two goals conceded on the evening and United needing to strengthen the midfield, at least defensively, Pogba was replaced by Matic, which happened in the 64th minute of the match.

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7 Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan is in some great form at this stage of the season, which is great to see. He opened the scoring for United, firing his first goal in the 39th minute of the match. In the 57th and 60th minutes of the match, United conceded two goals. The Uruguayan put United level in the 68th minute of the match, scoring his 14th goal of the season but he was substitutes minutes later after being booked for an argument. It would have been a great evening for him to score a hat-trick.

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Substitutes

27 Alex Telles

Replaced Shaw 46'. Did not do as well as Shaw, in fact, United were much weaker in defence with him on the pitch.

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33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 46'. Saw a lot go action as Roma attacked on his side and scored twice. Had a shot of his own but it was a forgettable night for him.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Pogba 64'. Came on to shore up the midfield with United under the cosh. Did what he needed to do, despite United losing on the night.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Cavani 73'. Gave United some attacking spark but other than this being a run out for him, there was not much point him playing.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Fernandes 84'. Came on for a cameo. Did not really have enough time on the pitch to get stuck into the match.

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Goals: Edin Džeko 57′, Bryan Cristante 60′, Nicola Zalewski 83′; Edinson Cavani 39′, 68′

Assists: Pedro 57′, Lorenzo Pellegrini 60′, Davide Santon 83′; Fred 39′, Bruno Fernandes 68′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 46′), Bailly, Maguire, Shaw (Telles 46′); Van de Beek, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes (Mata 84′), Pogba (Matic 64′); Cavani (Rashford 73′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Lindelof, Tuanzebe; Diallo, McTominay; Elanga

Bookings: Rick Karsdorp 72′, Bryan Cristante 84′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 18′, Fred 58′, Edinson Cavani 72′, Brandon Williams 90+2′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Van de Beek, Fernandes and Cavani start against Roma; Rashford and Elanga on the bench

Manchester United face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg this evening. Last week at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came from 2-1 down to win 6-2 after a sublime second half which saw Bruno Fernandes complete his brace, Edinson Cavani score a brace, Paul Pogba with a great header and Mason Greenwood continue his rise to stardom. Roma were pushed aside and will need something short of a miracle to overturn this four-goal deficit and that is even before you think about whether United score or not. Paulo Fonseca’s side’s season looks to be over.

United will have had another week’s break by the time they play again after their Premier League clash with Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after the protest against the Glazer’s at both Old Trafford, which involved supporters getting into the stadium, and at the Lowry Hotel, where the players were ahead of the match. The match was initially delayed but then postponed on safety grounds with a new date for the match not yet confirmed. United will have five Premier League matches to fit into the next 20 days as the match will need to be played before the last matches in the league are played on the 23 May 2021.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw;

Van de Beek, Fred;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba;

Cavani

Substitutes:

Grant, Henderson; Lindelof, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Diallo, Matic, McTominnay; Rashford, Elanga

AS Roma:

Mirante;

Karsdorp, Smalling, Ibanez, Peres;

Cristante, Mancini;

Pedro, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan;

Dzeko

Substitutes:

Boer, Fuzato, Santon, Mayoral, Kumbulla, Bove, Ciervo, Darboe, Zalewski

United and Roma have met seven times in the history of the UEFA Champions League, playing six times and the UEFA Europa League, playing once. United have won five times, drawing once and losing once. The Red Devils have scored a total of 19 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets. The first time the two clubs met was at the quarter-final stage of the Champion League during the 2006/07 season, losing 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico but winning 7-1 (8-3 ons aggregate) at Old Trafford a week later. They then met in the group stages of the competition during the 2007/08 season, winning 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams and drawing 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Before last week, United last met Roma was in the quarter-final during the 2007/08 season, making it four meetings between the two clubs that season. United won 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, winning 1-0 (3-0 on aggregate) at Old Trafford, making the semi-finals that season where they beat Barcelona 1-0 on aggregate over two legs and went on the beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featured against Roma in the first two matches played. Wayne Rooney scored four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored three, Michael Carrick scored twice, with Patrice Evra Gerard Piqué, Alan Smith and Carlos Tevez scoring once.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-1-2-1-2] Solskjaer to rest a number of players? In-form Cavani and Greenwood to lead the line against Roma?

Manchester United face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday evening. Last week at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came from 2-1 down to win 6-2 after a sublime second half which saw Bruno Fernandes complete his brace, Edinson Cavani score a brace, Paul Pogba with a great header and Mason Greenwood continue his rise to stardom. Roma were pushed aside and will need something short of a miracle to overturn this four-goal deficit and that is even before you think about whether United score or not. Paulo Fonseca’s side’s season looks to be over.

United will have had another week’s break by the time they play again after their Premier League clash with Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after the protest against the Glazer’s at both Old Trafford, which involved supporters getting into the stadium, and at the Lowry Hotel, where the players were ahead of the match. The match was initially delayed but then postponed on safety grounds with a new date for the match not yet confirmed. United will have five Premier League matches to fit into the next 20 days as the match will need to be played before the last matches in the league are played on the 23 May 2021.

How United have faired against AS Roma in European competition.

United and Roma have met seven times in the history of the UEFA Champions League, playing six times and the UEFA Europa League, playing once. United have won five times, drawing once and losing once. The Red Devils have scored a total of 19 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets. The first time the two clubs met was at the quarter-final stage of the Champion League during the 2006/07 season, losing 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico but winning 7-1 (8-3 ons aggregate) at Old Trafford a week later. They then met in the group stages of the competition during the 2007/08 season, winning 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams and drawing 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Before last week, United last met Roma was in the quarter-final during the 2007/08 season, making it four meetings between the two clubs that season. United won 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, winning 1-0 (3-0 on aggregate) at Old Trafford, making the semi-finals that season where they beat Barcelona 1-0 on aggregate over two legs and went on the beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featured against Roma in the first two matches played. Wayne Rooney scored four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored three, Michael Carrick scored twice, with Patrice Evra Gerard Piqué, Alan Smith and Carlos Tevez scoring once.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face AS Roma in the UEFA Europa League at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea is expected to keep his place in the team in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg at the Stadio Olimpico against AS Roma on Thursday evening. He will nneed to be at his best though as he conceded twice in the opening 34 minutes last week. Thwarting Edin Dzeko will be the big task though and the striker still has his ability to score goals, which is a big danger for the Italian side. De Gea could well leave United this summer after the birth of his daughter in the past few months and the fact that the club are ready to move on with Dean Henderson as the number one goalkeeper.

It would be good to see the Spanish goalkeeper leave the club after winning a trophy, which will be another big achievement for him despite the years of nothing before the club won the Emirates FA Cup under Louis Van Gaal and the EFL Cup and the Europa League under Jose Mourinho, who will become the Roma manager this summer after being sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in the past month. De Gea has won seven honours at United with three of them being the FA Community Shield, which is not a major trophy in my opinion. He has one Premier League title, one FA Cup, one EFL Cup and one UEFA Europa League to his name.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence need to have a good match against Roma, not capitulate like they did in the opening 34 minutes of the match last week. Solskjaer may want to make changes but there is only one I would make going into this match, then if they get the needed result, preferably two goals scored – nullifying the away goals Roma scored last week, more changes can be made. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should occupy the fullback places as they are the best in their position at this time. Shaw can have a say in the attacking on the left, which he has done all season with Wan-Bissaka concentrating on his defensive duties on the right.

Harry Maguire will start this match, commanding his backline and doing his best to ensure United make the final of the UEFA Europa League this season. I would allow Victor Lindelof to be rested, bringing in Eric Bailly for this match, giving him the chance to show what he can do and help to earn his place in the team back. His injury record, although with him being at the club for a shorter period of time, is comparable to that of Phil Jones, which is a shame. I though Bailly was the best defender at the club a few years back. He could still prove he is one of the best as long as he plays well and keeps his fitness, which is his major problem.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

United should ensure they field the midfield that is capable of the task ahead – securing United’s place in the UEFA Europa League final this season. United are in a good position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League based on their league position as they sit in second place six points clear of fourth with a game in hand over the two teams below them. That will only be confirmed when it is mathematically impossible for other teams to knock United out of the top four. Paul Pogba should start as his form over the last month has been positive and he has been capable of doing the business and helping to get the job done.

Nemanja Matic probably deserves a start in this match, of which United have the chance of resting some of the first-choice players, keeping them fresh for the remainder of the season with five Premier League matches left to play, this match and quote possibly the final of this competition. Matic can offer something to the midfield, despite his pace not being as good as it once was. Scott Mctominay should also start as he can help in the defensive duties but also get forward and cause some problems of his own in the final third of the pitch. United already have their foot in the door, now they need to get through it and shut it to ensure they get to Gdansk.

Attacking Midfield: Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek should start in the advanced position usually occupied by Bruno Fernandes against Roma. He is a capable player and needs to have some time on the pitch to show what he can do. The Dutchman has one goal and two assists to his name this season but has only played 32 times for the club, opening just 1,181 minutes on the pitch, which averages at just under 37 minutes per appearance. The 24-year-old is clearly part pf the bigger picture at United and is happy at the club, as stated by his compatriot and Manchester United Women player Jackie Groenen. I am sure Solskjaer has something in mind for the player.

He should start against Roma, which will give Fernandes a break ahead of the clash with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday. Van de Beek has the ability to break into the box, without or without the ball and create something. That has not been well demonstrated at United, but it is something the player has done time and time again for both Ajax and the Netherlands. United’s midfield is packed at this moment in time which has led to the Dutchman being on the bench more often that starting matches. Hopefully he gets to play a meaningful match and gets to show his manager and teammates just what he can do on the pitch.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani was named the Player of the Month for April for the goals he scored during the month, which puts him in great form at the right time – the business end of the season. He was going to be rested against Liverpool on Sunday, if the match was played, which would have left him fresh for this match, which is still the position he and United are in. United will need him one Sunday, so the goal should be United getting two early goals, which would seal the victory for United, unless Roma were able to score seven goals on the evening, which would seem unlikely. Cavani is the best striker at the club and the hop is that he will remain at United.

Mason Greenwood should play alongside the Uruguayan against Roma as he has been in form at this stage of the season, taking his goalscoring tally to ten goals last week. Greenwood can learn a lot from Cavani and he has been doing that this season. United have one foot in the final of the UEFA Europa League and have seemingly ended their semi-final hoodoo at a good time. Winning a trophy this season will be a must and at this stage, unless Arsenal turn up against Villarreal, it could be the Spanish team in the final. Either would be fine though. Imagine beating Arsenal in Gdansk and ending their dreams of European football next season.

Substitutes: Lee Grant, Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Amad Diallo, Daniel James; Marcus Rashford

United can name 12 players on the bench for the Europa League which gives more options, not that United need those after winning the first leg 6-2. Solskjaer will probably have both Lee Grant and Dean Henderson on the bench in this match. It is expected that David De Gea will keep his place in this competition with Henderson seemingly now playing in the Premier League matches. In defence, United could have Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe available, should they need the reinforcement inn the second leg. It is possible that Solskjaer chooses to rest some of the players that I think will play in this match.

In midfield, Juan Mata, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Amad Diallo and Daniel James could all be available with no new injuries reported after last week’s match at the Theatre of Dreams. United should go out to score at least two away goals in this match, nullifying Roma’s away goals scored last week, which, providing United do not concede any goals before scoring, would put them six goals to the good which would seemingly see them into the final. In attack, with United short on this front with Anthony Martial on the sidelines through injury, Marcus Rashford could be the only experienced attacking player on the bench for this match. He was due to start against Liverpool one Sunday before the match was postponed.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United rested ahead of Roma semi-final second leg; 90 minutes from the final

AS Roma -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Thursday 6 May 2021, KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Felix Brych Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp

Fourth Official: Felix Zwayer

VAR: Marco Fritz Assistant VAR: Sascha Stegemann

Manchester United face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday evening. Last week at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came from 2-1 down to win 6-2 after a sublime second half which saw Bruno Fernandes complete his brace, Edinson Cavani score a brace, Paul Pogba with a great header and Mason Greenwood continue his rise to stardom. Roma were pushed aside and will need something short of a miracle to overturn this four-goal deficit and that is even before you think about whether United score or not. Paulo Fonseca’s side’s season looks to be over.

United will have had another week’s break by the time they play again after their Premier League clash with Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after the protest against the Glazer’s at both Old Trafford, which involved supporters getting into the stadium, and at the Lowry Hotel, where the players were ahead of the match. The match was initially delayed but then postponed on safety grounds with a new date for the match not yet confirmed. United will have five Premier League matches to fit into the next 20 days as the match will need to be played before the last matches in the league are played on the 23 May 2021.

Manchester United: WDWWWW

AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 W, Granada CF 2-0 W

AS Roma: LLLDLD

UC Sampdoria 2-0 L, Manchester United 6-2 L, Cagliari Calcio 3-2 L, Atalanta BC 1-1 D, Torino FC 3-1 L, AFC Ajax 1-1 D

Top Scorers: Four United players are responsible for scoring 68 goals so far this season with United scoring more than a 100 so far. Roma need a miracle to stop this team from scoring goals.

Manchester United Goals: 26 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 12 – Edinson Cavani, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

In their last six matches, United have won five and drawn once, scoring 16 goals, conceding four and keeping three clean sheets. Obviously, this could have changed if the Liverpool match had gone ahead on Sunday, but it didn’t. United have a foot in the door to the final of the Europa League this season and will need to go out at the Stadio Olimpico with a view of scoring two goals, giving them a six-goal lead and eradicating those two goals scored against them at the Theatre of Dreams last week. Solskjaer will have the chance to rest some of his key players in this match with the clash with Aston Villa also one the horizon.

AS Roma Goals: 15 – Borja Mayoral, 12 – Edin Dzeko, Jordan Veretout, 10 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Lorenzo Pellegrini, 5 – Gianluca Mancini, Pedro, 3 – Carles Pérez, 2 – Ibañez, Marash Kumbulla, Bruno Peres, Leonardo Spinazzola, 1 – Riccardo Calafiori, Bryan Cristante, Amadou Diawara, Stephan El Shaarawy, Federico Fazio, Rick Karsdorp, Tommaso Milanese

Roma have not won a single match in their last six, drawing twice and losing four times. In the last six matches, they have scored seven goals, conceded 16 and kept no clean sheets. The club sit seventh in the Serie A this season and look set to miss out on the major European competitions, seemingly able to qualify for the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League instead. Paulo Fonseca will leave the club at the end of the season with Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho taking over from him. The Special One has become the sacked one too many times recently and will need to show that he is capable of leading a team to glory.

Team News: United will be missing two players though injury but Sunday’s postponed match will have given them a brief period of rest ahead of this important match.

Phil Jones (knee) and Anthony Martial (knee) are the only two players to be out of action through injury for this match. With United’s match not going ahead on Sunday, Solskjaer’s side will be refreshed after their 6-2 victory at Old Trafford last Thursday. Solskjaer will have the benefit of being able to rest a few players for this match given the scoreline and United will need to effectively confirm their place in the UEFA Europa League final by scoring two away goals, therefore cancelling out Roma’s effort at the Theatre of Dreams last week. This could put United six goals ahead with Roma needing something of a miracle to head Gdansk on the 26 May.

Nicolò Zaniolo (cruciate ligament), Riccardo Calafiori (bicep), Jordan Veretout (bicep), Leonardo Spinazzola (bicep), Pau López (shoulder), Stephan El Shaarawy (unknown), Amadou Diawara (pubalgia) and Carles Pérez (muscular) all have problems ahead of the second leg of the semi-final against United. Roma will need something short of a miracle to overcome this deficit and reach the final in Gdansk on the 26 May. Gianluca Mancini was suspended for the clash at Old Trafford and he could be involved at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening. Paulo Fonseca will need to have a plan and United will be out to ruin it once again.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood to spearhead United’s attack against Roma? Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic to start?

Solskjaer already knows that be can rest some important players for this match, which at this stage of the season will be well received. United did not end up playing this weekend but the match will be factored in before the final weekend of Premier League matches, so resting players now will be something much-needed with five Premier League matches still to play, plus this one and the final if United did end up confirming their place. Edinson Cavani should start alongside Mason Greenwood as United should seek to score two away goals, therefore nullifying Roma’s chances of playing in the final in Gdansk this season.

Match Prediction: United have beaten Roma five times in European competition and are no stranger to humiliating them. United are just 90 minutes away from a UEFA Europa League final.

United and Roma have met seven times in the history of the UEFA Champions League, playing six times and the UEFA Europa League, playing once. United have won five times, drawing once and losing once. The Red Devils have scored a total of 19 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets. The first time the two clubs met was at the quarter-final stage of the Champion League during the 2006/07 season, losing 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico but winning 7-1 (8-3 ons aggregate) at Old Trafford a week later. They then met in the group stages of the competition during the 2007/08 season, winning 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams and drawing 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Before last week, United last met Roma was in the quarter-final during the 2007/08 season, making it four meetings between the two clubs that season. United won 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, winning 1-0 (3-0 on aggregate) at Old Trafford, making the semi-finals that season where they beat Barcelona 1-0 on aggregate over two legs and went on the beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featured against Roma in the first two matches played. Wayne Rooney scored four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored three, Michael Carrick scored twice, with Patrice Evra Gerard Piqué, Alan Smith and Carlos Tevez scoring once.

AS Roma 2-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW