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Dec 12, 2019 at 8pm UK
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Preview: Manchester United vs. AZ - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester United vs. AZ - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:382398: from db_amp
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Thursday's Europa League fixture between Manchester United and AZ.
By , Senior Reporter | 1mo

Manchester United play host to AZ in the Europa League on Thursday night still requiring a point to secure top spot in Group L.

However, AZ make the trip to Old Trafford knowing that victory will be enough to relegate the Premier League giants into second place.

Match preview

After a three-match winless streak, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found himself under pressure to keep his job in the dugout ahead of meetings with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the Premier League.

However, while successive 2-1 victories have not completely ended speculation regarding his future, Solskjaer heads into the meeting with AZ feeling significantly safer in the North-West.

While there is an argument that United's style of play is only effective against the bigger clubs, the Norwegian now has more time to adapt his tactics in order to keep United in contention for a top-four position in England's top flight.

As far as their European campaign is concerned, Solskjaer has regularly taken the opportunity to make sweeping alterations to his starting lineup, although that stance may change with AZ still able to claim top spot.

Progressing through to the last 32 as group winners is not a necessity for United, but there is a feeling that Solskjaer should do what it takes to maintain their momentum heading into Sunday's clash with Everton.

However, regardless of the former striker's team selection, AZ will pose a threat on Thursday night having continued to be the surprise package of Dutch football this season.

Arne Slot's side, who sit in second place in the Eredivisie, have won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions, although their 2-2 draw at home to Besiktas two weeks ago prevented the club from heading into matchday six ahead of United.

Nevertheless, they kept clean sheets in each of those eight victories, suggesting that United are unlikely to have it all their own way in this group decider.

Manchester United Europa League form: WDWWL
Manchester United form (all competitions): WDLDWW

AZ Europa League form: WDDWWD
AZ form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Team News

Solskjaer will hope to have Marcos Rojo available after a muscle injury, while Nemanja Matic is in line to make his first start since October 3.

Mason Greenwood will almost certainly be selected in attack, with Tahith Chong being given another opportunity to impress on the flank.

Fellow youngsters Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams should feature at the back, although Solskjaer is expected to name a more experienced lineup to the one which started the game in Astana two weeks ago.

While Paul Pogba is closing in on a return from an ankle problem, the Frenchman is unlikely to have recovered in time for Thursday night.

As for AZ, former Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar could play after returning to the squad at the weekend.

Jordy Clasie may take the place of Fredrik Midtsjo in midfield, but Myron Boadu misses out through suspension.

Manchester United possible starting lineup: Romero; Young, Tuanzebe, Rojo, Williams; Matic, Pereira; James, Mata, Chong; Greenwood

AZ possible starting lineup: Bizot; Svensson, Wuytens, Vlaar, Wijndal; Wit, Clasie, Koopmeiners; Stengs, Druijf, Idrissi

We say: Manchester United 2-1 AZ


With Solskjaer likely to make changes and AZ being eager to record one of the biggest wins in their history, we are predicting a closely-fought encounter. However, United's superior class in the final third could prove to be the difference.

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