Manchester United travel to Moscow this week, a ground that holds fond memories for the away fans, as it was the scene of their last Champions League triumph.
United go into the game on the back of a resounding 3-0 victory away from home at Goodison. It was also a joyous return for boyhood Everton fan Wayne Rooney, who managed to score his first away goal in the Premier League since his strike against Arsenal at the Emirates last season.
United go into the game with 3 points from a possible six following defeat against PSV in the opening match of the campaign followed by a 2-1 victory against Wolfsburg at home. As Van Gaal has stated on more than one occasion, United must aim to win all their home games to ensure progress in this year’s competition. However, that does not mean they can take this game for granted. Moscow are undefeated at home this season and United will need to be on top of their game if they are to get a positive result. United have stated their desire not only to compete, but they would like to go on to win this prestigious competition.
United face a tough Premier League fixture on Sunday, with the visit of the league leaders to the theatre of dreams, and this could have an influence on the team Van Gaal decides to field on Wednesday night. After putting in one of their best performances of the season against Everton, the temptation would be not to change a winning formula and field the same team, but this is unlikely to be the case.
De Gea will most probably start the game but it is in defence and midfield where we are most likely to see changes being made. Blind missed out at the weekend after starting all the previous games and it would be no surprise to see him return to the starting 11 in place of Rojo. The Argentinian full-back had a great game on Saturday and got an assist with an exquisite cross that was dispatched by Hererra. However, with his recent Injury problems Van Gaal may want to save him for the weekend. Jones and Smalling looked very confident and assured at centre-back and that pairing needs more time together, to provide the long-term solution to United’s centre-back woes.
In midfield, it would be no surprise to see Bastian Schweinsteiger rested, he was brought in for his experience in big games, and they do not come much bigger than the Manchester derby. Hererra made a powerful impact at the weekend and it would not be too much to ask, for him to play three games in a week. He will also want to keep his place in the starting line-up.
The interesting question will be if Depay will get the nod to return, he has not been in great form this season and has so far failed to live up to the high expectations that were set when he arrived at Old Trafford.
Possible Starting Line-ups
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev – Fernandes – Nababkin – Ignashevich – Schennikov – Eremenko – Wernbloom – Tosic – Dzagoev – Musa – Doumbia
Man United: De Gea – Darmian – Smalling – Jones – Blind – Carrick – Schneiderlin – Mata – Rooney – Herrera – Martial