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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Red Devils can get on front foot early

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates a goal against Liverpool
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Europa League last-32 first leg
BT Sport 2, 8.05pm Thursday

Jose Mourinho has spoken of his dislike of the Europa League but that shouldn't stop the Manchester United manager from naming a strong team when they host St-Etienne at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils struggled in their early group matches in this competition but they picked up in the league and Europe before going on a lengthy winning streak in December and the early part of January.

Despite this, Mourinho's men are still only sixth in the Premier League and he will have to take the Europa League seriously with a place in next season's Champions League on offer for the winners.

That should mean that players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba - who is set to face his brother Florentin - should all line up for United.

If they do, then expect the Red Devils to be on the front foot from the start. They have been positive at home this season and should be fresh after never needing to get into top gear against Watford on Saturday.

St Etienne should be respected, though, as they are going well in Ligue 1, but Les Verts are a better side at home and are unlikely to be expansive in Manchester. 

They've played ten matches in this competition and are yet to taste defeat but they came through a relatively easy group containing Mainz, Anderlecht and Qabala. An in-form United should prove too hot for them to handle and backing them to strike early could pay. 

United struggled to break down Zorya when they visited Old Trafford in September but their subsequent Europa matches - a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce and a 4-0 rout of Feyenoord - were comprehensive and they struck early in both.

Man Utd-Man Utd double result
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Team news
Man Utd
Marcos Rojo is fit after recovering from an injury sustained against Leicester but Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney are all unavailable.

Oussama Tannane misses out for the visitors.

Key stat
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 19 home matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba - who is set to face his brother Florentin - should all line up for United
E.W. Terms
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