Manchester United vs Fenerbahce
Europa League
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Old Trafford

Manchester United are third in the Europa League after two games and now they play Turkish supergiants Fenerbahce in their next test.

Albeit their third on goal difference, Jose Mourinho’s side have been underwhelming in their first two games despite changing the line-up drastically from the Premier League side.

However, the Fenerbahce game provides an unwelcome distraction for United after their gruesome draw against Liverpool on Monday.

Especially when they face Chelsea at home on Sunday, followed by a local derby against Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

It doesn’t get much more difficult does it?

Mourinho will of course want to win the game, but no doubt he’ll have an eye on the match against his old team on the weekend.

The United boss has to show intent against the Blues after he deployed a defensive side at Anfield, if he doesn’t and United fail to win, the point earned on Monday night will seem like two points lost and it’ll lead to the inevitable ‘what ifs’.

It wasn’t just the set-up of Mourinho’s side at the beginning of the game, but it was the tactical decisions he made farther into it.

Bringing on Wayne Rooney at right-wing when you had more than enough industry in the likes of Jesse Lingard or Anthony Martial, who could’ve offered much more of a counter-attacking threat if they had the chance.

Without saying it was the wrong decision, it wasn’t the pro-active choice and the Chelsea game at Old Trafford will determine whether it was worth the parking of the bus, or whether they should’ve gone for the three points after all.

The focus on Thursday night won’t just be on Mourinho and his side of course, Old Trafford will welcome back a world-class player in the form of Robin van Persie.

The Dutch striker left under Louis van Gaal despite winning Sir Alex Ferguson’s last Premier League title, almost single-handedly at times, during the 2012/13 season.

Although he left under a dark cloud, nobody will forget the last minute free-kick against Manchester City at the Etihad, or his ridiculous volley against Aston Villa, which will be remembered as an all-time great Premier League goal.

Team news

United have no new injury concerns with 24 first-teamers completing training on Wednesday.

Mourinho wouldn’t confirm who he had in mind to start the game, except that Luke Shaw would play. He also confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is fully fit but he didn’t expand on whether he’d be involved on Thursday night.

Ex-Premier League stars van Persie, Martin Skrtel and on-loan Sunderland winger Jermaine Lens are all set to start for the Turkish giants.

Predicted line-ups

Man Utd: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Schneiderlin, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, Martial

Fenerbahce: Demirel, van der Wiel, Kjaer, Skrtel, Kaldirim; Sen, Souza, Potuk, Topal; van Persie, Emenike

 

 




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