19:05
Opinion

Three reasons Manchester United have an edge over Anderlecht

Thursday 20th April 2017
Manchester United welcome Belgian giants Anderlecht to Old Trafford for their Europa League quarter-final tie's return leg. The corresponding fixture ended 1-1 in Belgium.

The Red Devils will be hoping their good run of form in recent games (United is unbeaten in their last seven overall) translates into victory and a semifinal berth. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were rested at the weekend in their 2-0 victory over Premier League leaders Chelsea. Although Zlatan came on to spell Marcus Rashford in the second half, both will be fresh.
Jose Mourinho has his eyes on the Europa League crown in order to make qualify for the Champions League, an alternative route to finishing in the top four domestically. Despite the absence of creative talent Juan Mata, United must believe they can overcome the Belgian side.

Here are three reasons United should win tonight.

Home Advantage

United will be counting on the home crowd at Old Trafford. Supporters in full voice will be crucial for the hosts. The twelfth man could play a major role in tonight's fixture. Goals from Rashford and Ander Herrera gave United a much needed 2-0 league win, on Sunday, at least temporarily putting the brakes on Antonio Conte's Premier League title aspirations, but the Reds' relentless domination was driven by fans making their presence known.

A Rested Ibra Returns

The Swedish forward has been a threat to several defences this season, finding the back of the net twenty-eight times against top sides like Manchester City and Everton, as well as a hat-trick against French side Saint Etienne in Europa League round of thirty-two. His presence will be a big boost for United as they seek to advance to the competition's last four. His awareness and lethal partnership in transition with Rashford, Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba will be revived. Expect the Frenchman to venture forward to support the trio likely to lead the line against the visitors.

After accepting his benching for poor play in the first leg, admitting he was tired, Zlatan should be eager to make amends. He is driven by pride, after all. having dominated Chelsea, young Rashford should also be chomping at the bit.

New Found Confidence

The home side will be coming into the clash with positive euphoria and strong belief. Results have been positive for Mourinho's side in recent games. Their seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions is bolstered by a twenty-two match undefeated streak in the Premier League. Rashford, Herrera, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, and Eric Bailly are all in pure runs of form. After failing to put the Belgians down in the away leg, the 2-0 result against Chelsea set the tone for the all-important return meeting.
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