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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Real Sociedad

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Over before it started? Famous last words.

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Thursday’s match:

(1) Manchester United return to Old Trafford to host Real Sociedad in the second leg of the teams’ Europa League match up, following United’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United. The scoreline might have flattered United slightly, but goals from Rashford, James, and Fernandes gave the Reds another important victory in the league.

(2) We need to have a dialogue about Marcus Rashford’s goal that broke the 0-0 stalemate on the weekend.

It was a beaut and that’s all the dialogue we need.

Also, we’d be remiss to not mention that Rashford’s goal moved him up to 24th — tied with David Beckham (maybe you’ve heard of him?) — on the club’s all-time goal leaders with 85 goals scored.

(3) The Welsh Sancho struck again. Daniel James earned a start against Newcastle following his rip-roaring appearance in the first leg against Sociedad. While my son, Daniel, might not have played as convincingly in his second straight start, he did net himself a very fine goal from the right side — an otherwise hellish landscape known for goals like deserts are known for their rain.

Is all this scoring just a flash in the pan from James? Who knows. Let’s just live in the moment for once and enjoy it — it clearly means a lot to him still.

(4) James joined Ole for the press conference session Wednesday, in the lead-up to the match against Sociedad. After an inaugural season when James was asked to probably play too much, he’s used his second season to try to refine his game.

“It’s been a learning season for me. I’ve been knuckling down and working hard in training, and getting back to where I want to be.”

(5) Since 2012, United are unbeaten at Old Trafford in their last 14 UEFA Europa League matches. Of course, that streak could be at risk as Real Sociedad chases the 4-0 aggregate deficit they find themselves in following the first leg. Thursday could mark an important opportunity for the Reds to stay sharp and not open themselves up for a let down like they’ve become accustomed to doing here and there.

(6) Real Sociedad are coming off a 4-0 dismantling of their own against Deportivo Alavés. Of course, making a miraculous and historic comeback against United on Thursday will require something incredibly special from the visitors. Therefore, what’s the game plan for United so that the Reds don’t blow their 4-0 lead? Stop Alex Isak.

(7) Real Sociedad released their traveling squad for the upcoming match. Don’t be fooled by the first leg. There are some proper footballers in that squad.

(8) According to Solskjaer, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, and Edinson Cavani are all out along with Hannibal Mejbri. The door now seems wide open for Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire to make it into the match if not outright start. Of course, Solskjaer was coy when asked during his media availability.

“Amad and Shola will, of course, be involved. They are in the squad but I am not going to tell you if they are starting or not.”

(9) The Thursday match is not only a good opportunity to get the young lads some more meaningful playing time, it’s also a chance to give the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford a reprieve knowing that Chelsea awaits this weekend. We’d like to say we expect Ole to make these changes, but we’re probably in for 90-minute shifts from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Fernandes, Rashford, etc.

(10) SOME EXCELLENT NEWS

(11) Get well soon!