By Ollie Cranham-Young
- Romero and Valencia return to squad
- Shaw, McNair, Young and Wilson miss out through injury or illness
Following a successful and convincing revival in the league against Everton on Saturday, United now turn their attention back to Europe in a bid to go top of their Champions League group.
Manchester United haven’t achieved since they were last in the Champions League in the 2013/14 season. However, CSKA Moscow have already proven that they are potentially tricky opponents in Group B, after successfully defeating Dutch champions PSV 3-2 last time around.
They are enjoying a good-run in the league as of late including two victories over Russian opponents FC Ural and Dynamo Moscow respectively. All these are contributing factors in what we hope to be an entertaining clash between the sides on Wednesday evening.
As well all know, United enjoyed a 3-0 away victory at Everton on Saturday afternoon, in a convincing and entertaining win that saw Morgan Schneiderlin bag his first competitive goal for the Reds, and Rooney end his away-day goal drought as United gladly took all three points away from Goodison Park.
It was a fantastic team performance from Louis Van Gaal’s side. Ander Herrera was one of several stand-out performances for United on Merseyside. David De Gea yet again proved his worth, picking up his first clean sheet since the Sunderland game just over three weeks ago.
We have seen some comebacks from United in recent weeks against the likes of Wolfsburg and Southampton, proving that the “Never say die spirit” is well cemented into Louis Van Gaal’s side. Which has been an integral part of United’s history.
As for CSKA, we all know that they defeated PSV on Matchday Two, blowing the group standings wide open, and not only that they have proved they are a force to be reckoned with. They overcame what many describe as the Russian Derby victorious just over two weeks ago, with a 2-0 victory over Dynamo Moscow.
They currently sit top of the Russian Premier League on 32 points, after winning eight of their ten league games, drawing twice and losing exactly none. Although, with all due respect, the Russian league is nowhere near as difficult as the Premier League.
CSKA are possibly the most difficult opponents in the Champions League in terms of logistics. Louis Van Gaal’s has a massive decision to make ahead of the game. As he hopes his side to come out victorious against CSKA, and be fully fit for the Derby. But if they come out victorious on both occasions it will prove to everyone that they are worthy title contenders.
It is a a 4-5 hour flight to Moscow, and there is a two hour time difference, meaning the game will kick off 10:45 local time (7:45 BST). Not only that but the Reds will be playing on artificial grass, so we will also see how they cope in different playing conditions.
Louis Van Gaal has revealed earlier today that Sergio Romero and Antonio Valencia are set to travel with the squad, despite not being involved at all in Saturday’s encounter at Goodison Park; due to the fact they were late returnees from the international break.
James Wilson will be out of contention because of an illness, but Jesse Lingard who impressively performed against the Merseysiders is set to keep his place in the squad.
Finally, Luke Shaw, Paddy McNair and Ashley Young will all miss out but Louis Van Gaal is still taking a 20 man squad with him to Russia. Van Gaal spoke exclusively to MUTV today and said:
“I’ll take 20 players with me. It’s a four-hour flight so, if a player gets ill, I have the other player in my environment”.
United go into the game against CSKA needing a win to confirm a place at the top of the Group Stage, and what a time it would be to achieve it, as we eagerly approach Sunday’s monumental clash with arch rivals Manchester City.
It’s a busy set of fixture ahead for United, with European action midweek, followed by the Derby and then the return to the Capital One Cup against Championship side Middlesbrough which is in between a tricky away clash to Londoners Crystal Palace.
If United overcome these set of fixtures top of both their European group and the Premier League, we have absolutely no reason to rule out a title challenge and a good run in Europe too.