In what is now the most important match of the season to date, Manchester United host Anderlecht in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final. Even with a top four finish in the Premier League still within reach, the Europa League still represents the most straightforward path to next season’s Champions League. The Reds hold a slim advantage on away goals after last week’s annoying 1-1 draw in Belgium, but no one should expect José Mourinho to play this one safe. Despite United’s 100% record at home in the competition, and the fact that they have conceded just one Europa League goal at Old Trafford this season, approaching this match for anything but a comfortable win would be unthinkable. United are likely to attack Anderlecht from the off, as they should.
Rested - or rotated for tactical reasons, depending on which Mourinho version you prefer - Zlatan Ibrahimović is likely to regain his place at the head of United’s attack. Presumably, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will also return to the line-up, even though Mourinho offered some thinly-veiled criticism of the Armenian by describing his season as “Good, in the Europa League. In the Europa League.” Marcus Rashford’s return to goal-scoring form make him difficult to omit as well.
Three of the back four pick themselves, but there is a chance that Luke Shaw’s extra threat on the overlap is preferred to the decidedly adventure-adverse Matteo Darmian at left-back. Anthony Martial will be hoping for a recall to the matchday squad, after being challenged again by the manager to do more to earn his place. Yesterday’s man Wayne Rooney may be available off the bench as well, even though he has been suffering with minor injury issues. Mourinho is hoping to be able to call on Rooney’s experience if need be: “With his experience and know-how of this knockout phase, he is a player who can be useful.” Sure.
Another potential advantage for United lies in the fact that Anderlecht have a key title clash against Club Brugge at the weekend. Even if manager Rene Weiler elects not to rest any players for the Old Trafford visit, United have no such league aspirations to serve as a distraction.
HOW TO WATCH
When: 20:05 UK, 15:05 on the east coast, 12:05 on the west
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
Television: BT Sport 2 in the UK. Over in the US, you'll want Fox Sports 1. Everybody else, have a look at livesoccertv.
Streaming: BT Sport's streaming service has you covered here, as does Fox Soccer 2GO and WatchESPN.
This will also be our Live Thread for the game, so share your thoughts as the action unfolds in the comments section.