Talking points for our Old Trafford return
Manchester United fans have waited two weeks for a first-team game - and double that duration for a home one. Here are the main topics of discussion as the Reds make a welcome return to the Theatre of Dreams...
READY TO GO AGAIN
After an international break that seemed to drag even longer than usual for a number of reasons, we’re back at Old Trafford for the last match of a mad March which has encapsulated the incredible highs and sudden lows that only football can serve up.
The five-goal thriller at home to Southampton on 2 March was quickly followed by one of the most remarkable games in this club’s long and storied history, a night in Paris that will live long in the memory. We were brought back down to earth with a bump following the Emirates FA Cup exit to Wolves and Premier League defeat at Arsenal, before the campaign paused for the internationals.
Now, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer permanently at the wheel, the plan is to get back on track and end the month with a rousing win over Watford as we head into a frenetic finale to 2018/19.
AN EPIC APRIL LIES AHEAD
After the Watford match, we'll be back in action in just three days’ time with a quick return to Molineux - the stadium we visited in the Cup a fortnight ago. Tuesday's league match will be the first of what is currently seven fixtures across two competitions in April; that number would rise to eight if another phenomenal double-header in Europe is negotiated to book a Champions League semi-final slot.
Old Trafford season-ticket holders have the small matter of a first-leg clash with Barcelona on 10 April and the Manchester derby to look forward to 14 days later; we'll also have two visits from the capital in the shape of West Ham and Chelsea, with the latter clearly being huge in the race for the top four.
For travelling fans, there is the prospect of trips to the Black Country, Catalonia and Merseyside… what a month!
RECOVERY AND RECUPERATION FOR REDS
A gruelling and intense run of games in three competitions during March began to take its toll on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ranks, with a group of players forced to pull out of their international squads over the last couple of weeks.
Paul Pogba, David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Scott McTominay and Antonio Valencia survived their call-ups unscathed, although Eric Bailly picked up a head knock in Ivory Coast’s match with Rwanda. Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic were among the Reds who were unable to play for their countries due to injury, while Alexis had already been ruled out.
Fingers crossed, the recovery period since 16 March has eased many of those aching limbs and the recently injured are close to being ready for club selection again.
M16 IN THE AREA
There’s no place like home, and that’s certainly been the case for Ole in the Premier League, with four wins, two draws and no defeats at Old Trafford so far.
In fact, the loss to Tottenham way back in August remains our only home loss in the league this season, and maintaining that strong form in M16 will be vital if we’re to end the campaign on a high.
Come on, United!