Astana vs. Manchester United Preview


Graphic from keocali.com

The busiest month in English football is nearly upon us, and Manchester United are looking to be proactive in preparation for the nine games that they will have to play in December with a very youthful squad set to take on Astana on Thursday night.

After arguably one of the worst showings of the season on Sunday, United put in perhaps the best 10 minutes of the campaign in the spirited come back at Sheffield United. The Reds were down 0-2 and almost out before United's academy products in Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford scored three goals in quick succession to drag Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side out of the dumps.

The game eventually ended in a disappointing 3-3, but most of the players that took part in that game have earned their rest ahead of the hectic month that's ahead, starting with Aston Villa on Sunday. The manager has left almost all of his big names in Manchester while bringing 14 teenagers out to Kazakhstan with him for United's penultimate group stage fixture.

And the prospect of this game is very exciting. United have already cemented their place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, and with the aforementioned Villa, Tottenham and Manchester City all to play in the league in a little less than a week next, this mass rotation makes perfect sense.

There will be debuts handed out left, right, and centre on Thursday, and that's what makes this game impossible to predict. Technically, this is a nothing game for United — win, lose, or draw. But, it's certainly not meaningless for all of the players that will get to don the famous red shirt out there on the pitch.

All of the players involved, debutants or not, will have something to prove. The debuting players such as the already confirmed Di'shon Bernard, Dylan Levitt, and Ethan Laird will want to leave a good first impression on the manager before the turn of the year. The likes of Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw, who have fallen out of favour for one reason or another, will be hoping to put in good shifts in order to put themselves back into contention for the important games that are coming up thick and fast.

Make no mistake about it, this game is massive for the players that will be in it. And that's what makes it so exciting. A potential midfield trio of Levitt, James Garner, and Angel Gomes lining out for Manchester United is the most intriguing. Three players that have tons of chemistry from playing together across all age groups at the club, and they may very well be the key to United's victory.

For Astana, this game may have lost on its value a little bit. The players and the fans would have certainly hoped to welcome a full strength Manchester United into their home, but they will have to settle for the players of the future instead. But this shouldn't discourage the hosts by no means. A victory over the Manchester United badge will look the same in the history books regardless of the lineups, and it would be surprising if Astana were not motivated and didn't go all out to try and secure a statement win in front of their fans.

TEAM NEWS

Naturally, Manchester United have the whole squad which flew out to Kazakhstan at their disposal boosted by the returns of Axel Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw. Otherwise, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remain as the most notable names that are still to be sidelined for another few weeks. Also absent will be Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, and Nemanja Matic.

For Astana, only centre forward Firmin Mubele will be absent with a knee injury that he picked up at the end of September. Otherwise, head coach Roman Hryhorchuk will have a full personnel at his disposal.

PREDICTED LINEUP




SCORE PREDICTION

Astana 0-2 Manchester United

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