Written By: Dan Cancian
Twitter handle: @mufc_dan87
Manchester United host Shakhtar Donetsk tomorrow night at Old Trafford where they will hope to clinch top spot in Group A of the Champions League.
David Moyes’s side will head into the game aware that a win will remove the chance of them being drawn against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on December 16.
However United arrive into tomorrow night’s clash with their confidence at an all-time low, having lost back-to-back home games in the Premier League for the first time since the 2001-02 season and, perhaps even more worryingly, having scored just eight goals in eight league games at Old Trafford.
Things have gone considerably better in Europe, where United have secured qualification to the round of 16 with a game to spare and will go into tomorrow’s game knowing they can’t afford to lose, or else the draw could deliver an extremely tricky knockout tie for next February.
With Michael Carrick still sidelined, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling could also miss out, while Wayne Rooney will return to the starting XI, after missing out Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Newcastle through suspension.
The England striker’s return will be a boost for Moyes, whose team has struggled enormously in front of goal, with chances few and far between and goals even more of a rarity this season. Robin Van Persie has been plagued by injury problems and neither Javier Hernandez nor Danny Welbeck seem capable of providing a sizeable goal return.
United, however, have scored in 13 of the last 14 Champions League encounters on home turf, while Shakthar have never won in England in the Champions League. Numbers, at last, might provide a much-needed injection of confidence for the Reds and David Moyes.
What the managers say:
David Moyes, Manchester United:
“It’s important to give ourselves the best possible chance that we have in the next round. But the big job was to qualify in the group and that’s already been done,” he said.
“We’ve been inconsistent at times and we’ve played very well in the Champions League, not so well in the Premier League. We’ve lacked a bit of good fortune which could have made all the difference.
“It’s tough because the expectancy is to win all the games. I think we’d like to generally play better so I think it’s all-around we’re trying to improve.”
Man Utd v Shakhtar Donetsk Match Stats
Manchester United have failed to score in just one of their last 14 Champions League home games.
Manchester Utd are unbeaten against Ukrainian clubs in the Champions League (W3 D2).
David De Gea has kept three clean sheets in his last three Champions League games.
Man United and Milan are the only teams to have benefited twice from own goals in the CL this season.
Wayne Rooney is the top scoring English player in Champions League history with 29 goals.
Shakhtar Donetsk are winless in their five European games in England (D1 L4).
Shakhtar have always scored against English opposition in the Champions League (seven games).
All seven Shakhtar’s goals in this Champions League have been scored by Brazilian players.
Manchester United have lost two of their last four home matches in the Champions League (W2).