Solskjaer Says Five United Players Could Return to Action on Thursday

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave a fitness update on five players key players ahead of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg against AC Milan on Thursday night. The first leg, at Old Trafford, saw a 1-1 draw, so the Red Devils really need to step it up this week, in order to reach the quarterfinals.

The good news is a.) United maintained their mastery of former manager David Moyes, winning a match that’s critical for the top four race, on the weekend and b.) striker Edinson Cavani, forward Anthony Martial and midfielder Donny van de Beek could all feature in mid-week.

AC Milan vs Manchester United UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Leg 2/2 FYIs

Thursday, 18 March 2021, kickoff 20.00 UK, Tie currently stands at 1-1

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

AC Milan Team News/Match Preview: go here

United Starting XI Prediction: go here

Meanwhile goalkeeper David de Gea is out of self-isolation (although Dean Henderson is the cup shot-stopper at this point) and midfielder Paul Pogba may also return to action. (Don’t expect the Frenchman to play a lot of minutes though, if he does come back).

“We hope, we actually hope all five of them will be back,” Solskjaer said.

“David [De Gea] hopefully, Donny [van de Beek], Edinson [Cavani], Paul [Pogba] maybe, and Anthony [Martial] is very likely to be back. So a stronger squad to travel to Italy with.”

AC Milan are favorites, but every so slightly, at +240 while the draw is +230 and United are priced at +115 for this one.

Regardless of what happens in Europe, United look like they’re in pretty good shape to nab a top four spot.

europa-league

They are long out of the title race, but they are currently in position to finish runners-up, and they still have a second chance at a trophy this season (beyond in the UEL) in that they have progressed deeply in the FA Cup.

OGS said that the key to United accomplishing as much as they have so far is their defensive prowess, and the excellence in the holding midfield.

“You have to defend well to get clean sheets in the Premier League. We’ve scored more goals this season than last season, we are improving as an attacking team as well,” the Norwegian continued.

“But the attitude of everyone of doing the work that Kieran [McKenna] and Michael [Carrick] are doing, the work on the training ground and in the meeting rooms is absolutely spot on.

“The details the coaches give the players, they listen, they look, that is more and more about modern football. We want to attack teams by defending really high and being on the front foot defensively.

“It takes a lot of energy to do that and I think modern football requires that and we’ve got players who, I didn’t feel the need today to take them off because I felt every single player, to a tee, did a job defensively.”

Lately, the United of Solskjaer have resembled what the club looked like under Jose Mourinho, or even Louis van Gaal- it’s low scoring, but effective. It’s not swashbuckling high-powered football, but it gets results; to a point.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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