Manchester United are coming off a draw against Arsenal in the Premier League this past Monday, but now they have to change their focus because they have a tough UEFA Europa League matchup on the horizon. This Thursday, The Red Devils will travel to Cars Jeans Stadium to take on AZ Alkmaar, one of the best sides in the Eredivisie in recent years. Kick-off for this match has been listed at 17:55 BST. Manchester United will aim to keep their perfect run in the competition alive with an away win here.
Paul Pogba has been ruled out due to an ankle injury, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly does not want to risk him on astroturf. Anthony Martial remains out, and the same goes for a long list of defenders. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are all out of the squad for different reasons. Youngster Angel Gomes, however, is back on the squad after picking up a knock last week. The same goes for Diogo Dalot.
For what is worth, Manchester United’s travelling squad is as follows: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Lee Grant; Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo, Brandon Williams; Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Fred, James Garner, Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Angel Gomes, Daniel James; Tahith Chong, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood.
On the other hand, AZ Alkmaar won’t have Jonas Svensson, as he was sent off in the group-stage opener against Partizan two weeks ago. Albert Gudmunsson has been ruled out with an injury. But the rest of the squad is fit and available for this contest.
Manchester United have been extremely inconsistent so far this season. They own a W2, D3, L2 mark in the Premier League, and already sit quite far from the top of the standings. However, they started their UEFA Europa League campaign with a 1-0 home win over FK Astana thanks to a goal from Mason Greenwood. This will be their first away match in the group stage of the competition.
Meanwhile, AZ have looked impressive to start the season. The Alkmaar-based side are currently third in the Eredivisie standings thanks to a W6, D1, L1 record through their first eight games. They have also conceded just three goals in those matches, showing they will be a tough team to beat. Meanwhile, they debuted in the current UEFA Europa League campaign with a 2-2 away draw at Partizan. AZ had to participate in the Europa League Qualifiers to reach the Group Stage. But they have looked impressive to date. In seven games, they register three wins and four draws.
Do we have an existing track record against AZ Alkmaar?
This will be Manchester United’s first ever meeting against AZ Alkmaar. The last time they played a Dutch side in an European competition, it was in the UEFA Europa League final in 2016/17. The Red Devils won that game 2-0.
Manchester United have played Dutch opponents on 17 previous occasions. The record from those games reads W9, D3, L5.
Playing on an artificial turf is never easy, but AZ are not used to these conditions, either. Manchester United will have several absentees, but there is also a lot of experience among the squad members. Despite playing away from home, I believe The Red Devils should secure the three points against the Dutch side this Thursday.