The fallen English giant is looking to bounce back after the latest league defeat to Bournemouth as they host the Serbian Partizan at Old Trafford.
These two teams encountered in the previous Europa League fixture. The Red Devils pulled out a hard-earned minimal 1-0 win in a match that saw Partizan as the better opponent, with the Serbians creating a chance after chance while Solskjaer’s men desperately fought to save the three points at the end of the match.
The win against Partizan started the three-match winning streak versus Partizan, Norwich, and Chelsea in three different competitions. However, the streak snapped due to Joshua King’s solitary goal which kept all three points at Kings Park.
Solskjaer with the target on his back
A loss returned the crisis to Old Trafford, with Solskjaer constantly battling with the media writings saying he’s about to get sacked. The absence of Paul Pogba doesn’t help him either. Another Frenchman did return from injury, with Anthony Martial creating an impact as soon as he stepped on the pitch. Marcus Rashford is another bright spot for the team, and Ole will be looking at his ace to pull the team-up.
United’s mid-table situation is far from perfect, but they will be happy with the first place in the Europa League group, noting two wins and a draw to AZ Alkmaar.
Partizan will be on the other side, waiting for their opportunity to strike from the counters. Despite creating better chances in the first match, it’s expected of Partizan to drop back and try to strike through Umar Sadiq, who already scored two goals in Europe, adding seven in the domestic league competition.
The Serbian team is having a successful European record this season; beating Astana and drawing with Alkmaar are some results to be proud of, with Partizan in strong contention to go through to the knockout stage.
The domestic league title challenge is basically already out of the window for Partizan. Crvena Zvezda is on top with ten points to spare and just a single draw with 13 wins in 14 fixtures so far.
Sending a message
While the Europa League success always was and still is secondary for Manchester United, this match could be an opportunity to prove a point for Solskjaer and his men. Every next bad result could launch an avalanche of critics and a potential sack for the Norwegian manager, which means that his team cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal, even in the Europea League.
Given that Manchester United only lost once at home this season, even drawing to Liverpool, it’s safe to say that Old Trafford still holds a certain meaning in the world of football. It should also be interesting to see if Solsjaer decides for 3 at the back, although it is expected for the Norwegian to revert back to his 4-2-3-1, which should prove the right balance in beating the realistically weaker opponent.
Prediction: Manchester United (-1.5) vs Partizan – 1st team to win.
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