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The early optimism surrounding Man Utd’s season has quickly disintegrated and familiar questions are being asked with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial credentials coming under the microscope.
The Red Devils have taken just a single victory from their past five appearances, losing three of these, as even that sole win came late on as Cristiano Ronaldo struck a 95th-minute winner against Villarreal.
United have registered just a single clean sheet from 11 games across all competitions this season, including none at all from the past eight.
With Raphael Varane currently sidelined, captain Harry Maguire was rushed back into action from his own injury for the weekend clash with Leicester, but looked horribly off the pace and endured a nightmare afternoon, especially when Kelechi Iheanacho relieved him of the ball to set up Youri Tielemans.
It remains to be seen if he’ll be selected again here or if Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly form the centre-back partnership, though the possibility of a clean sheet appears fairly remote at present.
Atalanta have consistently been a high-scoring team since Gian Piero Gasperini took over back in 2016, winning 4-1 at the weekend away to Empoli, following a 3-2 defeat to Milan just prior to the international break.
They’ve scored at least twice in five of their last seven fixtures now, while in the Champions League alone, they’ve failed to score in just two of their past 18 matches.
Over 2.5 Goals
Atalanta have become accustomed to Champions League football in recent years and since 2019/20, 12 of their 19 games in this competition have featured at least three goals, while nine of them saw a minimum of four.
This looks like being a high-scoring fixture then, especially given 18 of Man Utd’s past 26 European games have seen at least three goals, with all of these coming under Solskjaer, including nine of 12 at Old Trafford.
Although Edinson Cavani is available, it would be a shock to see the Uruguayan selected ahead of Ronaldo, even if the latter cut a peripheral figure last time out against Leicester.
The Portuguese superstar continues to score for fun when representing his country and has five goals from eight appearances since his return to Man Utd, including goals in both Champions League games to date.
He may not be quite as prolific as in his peak years, but the 36-year-old has still netted eight times in his last nine outings in this competition and as ever, will be seeking to extend his record of 136 goals.
Elsewhere, Solskjaer could replace the out-of-sorts Jadon Sancho with Marcus Rashford after the latter scored from the bench at the weekend, but remains without the services of Anthony Martial.
The visitors aren’t without any absentees of their own, with Davide Zappacosta and Joakim Maehle set to continue on the flanks in the absences of wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens.
Centre-back Berat Djimisti and attacking midfielder Matteo Pessina complete the injured quartet, though their output shouldn’t be hindered with their key attacking players all available.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
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