By John Ryan
- United have advantage of an away goal after 1-1 draw in Belgium
- Zlatan likely to return to starting eleven
Manchester United face Anderlecht on Thursday night on the crest of a mini wave. With Chelsea tamed last Sunday, some of the old United and old Mourinho is back on display and are a formidable pairing.
By making unpredicted decisions, Mourinho has shown his tactical mastermind is still at the highest level and that he has the presence to make the biggest calls.
The problem now is how to get back to the level of Sunday’s game. But the simple fact is that without another minute of Premier League football this season, Manchester United are four games away from a place in next season’s Champions League.
With the tie delicately poised at a goal each, United are hot favourites to go through. But this Anderlecht side have goals in them, they had one chance in the game in Belgium and took it and they pose a credible threat.
Will Mourinho Restore Zlatan To His Starting Eleven?
What side Mourinho sends out will tell us what his plans are.
If Zlatan plays it suggests the manager is going for a low scoring tight game with a packed midfield. If he goes with the same front players as Sunday then most likely he will try to upset Anderlecht with pace.
Regardless of the first eleven sent out Old Trafford should be a cauldron and the fans ready to do their bit to guide United to the semi final.
Mata, Jones and Smalling continue to be absentees due to injury.
With United looking stable at the back Bailly and Rojo should take up the centre back spots. They have formed a successful partnership in a season of change so far.
Valencia should be right full back but there is also the option of Shaw and Darmian as full backs. Herrera should be a certainty in the middle of the park with Pogba by his side.
After that Jose could employ the services of various members of his squad.
Few would have predicted Ashley Young to play against Chelsea but his manager has included him at key times this season.
In contrast, most United fans expected great things from Anthony Martial this season but his form has been patchy.
What Of Anderlecht
Anderlecht have goals in their squad.
Teodorczyk who only came on as a substitute in the first-leg due to a shoulder problem, leads their scoring charts.
If Rene Weiler decides to start him at Old Trafford then Bailly and Rojo need to be ready but given their handling of Diego Costa on Sunday they should be able to neutralise most of Anderlecht’s threat.
Goalkeeper Ruben remains a doubt which leaves the prospect of seventeen year old Mile Svilar starting between the sticks at Old Trafford.
Seventeen years ago Anderlecht beat Manchester United in the Champions League and given Jose Mourinho’s heroics with unranked Porto in 2004 he above all others will know to not take any opponent lightly.
United should have too much for the Belgians though and the experience and finishing power of Ibrahimovic can make all the difference in this game.
Watching from the side line last Sunday will have hurt him. In his head Zlatan is the king and he will be keen to take back his crown from Prince Rashford.
Verdict: United 3-1 Anderlecht