Huddersfield vs. Man U
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium
Kick off: 2PM
Manchester United take on Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon knowing that only victory will be enough to boost their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spent much of the last couple of weeks having to fend off questions regarding his under-performing squad, but the United boss will be confident that his side can still end the campaign on a positive note.
Whether that leads to Champions League football next season remains to be seen, but United cannot really afford to fail to defeat two of the division’s poorest teams ahead of a summer of upheaval.
Solskjaer would have been relatively satisfied with his team’s display in the 1-1 draw against Chelsea, with United being restricted to a share of the spoils due to a mistake from David de Gea.
The long-serving goalkeeper will keep his place in the side for Sunday’s encounter, but the spotlight will remain on the Spain international given the current uncertainty surrounding his future.
Solskjaer finds himself in a similar situation with a number of his squad, and the Norwegian may feel relieved to see the back of a six-month period which has brought highs and lows in equal measure.
The least that Solskjaer will expect from the closing two fixtures is for his players to prove their desire to remain in his long-term plans, with too many question marks currently hovering above Old Trafford.
Solskjaer and his squad are also under pressure to improve on a run of just two wins from seven outings, with the victories over Watford and West Ham United arguably coming in fortunate circumstances.
United have not put together a convincing win and performance since the Fulham game back on February 9, but Solskjaer will have little excuses if that is not rectified against Huddersfield and Cardiff City.
Huddersfield however have known for some time that they will be playing Championship football next season, but head coach Jan Siewert will want to see an improvement from his players before the end of the season.
The Terriers have given a good account of themselves in a number of matches since Siewart’s arrival, but the German will be hugely disappointed with how his team have performed in recent games.
As many as fifteen goals have been conceded in their last four matches, and the manner of the 5-0 defeat at Liverpool would have set alarm bells ringing with Siewert ahead of the meeting with United.
Huddersfield’s squad should not need any extra motivation ahead of a clash with a club of that magnitude, but there have been signs that some players have already started to look ahead to the summer.
The first aim for Huddersfield at the weekend will be to avoid conceding an early goal having already found themselves behind within five minutes against each of Watford and Liverpool.
There was a period not so long ago when Huddersfield shipped just seven goals from five games, but any progress during that run of fixtures has been forgotten for some time.
Huddersfield also face the possibility of having no players reach five goals for the season, although January signing Karlan Grant has been a huge hit with four strikes coming from 11 appearances.
Huddersfield Town possible XI: Lossl, Smith, Schindler, Kongolo, Durm, Mooy, Stankovic, Bacuna, Hadergjonaj, Mounie, Grant.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Herrera, Sanchez, Pogba, Mata, Rashford.