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Preview: Manchester United vs. CSKA Moscow

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League Group B match between Manchester United and CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford.

Manchester United will attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive game without a goal when they welcome CSKA Moscow to Old Trafford in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The two Group B rivals played out a 1-1 draw in Russia towards the end of last month, with that result leaving Man United second and CKSA third on the same number of points.

Man United

Manchester United's Dutch manager Louis van Gaal awaits kick of in the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park in south London on October 31, 2015© Getty Images

Louis van Gaal is certainly a manager that has been around the block a few times, but even the experienced Dutchman will be feeling the pressure ahead of what is a crucial match for his team. The Red Devils have not scored in their last three games in all competitions and the knives are out for Van Gaal, with many claiming that he has made Man United into 'a boring team'.

The English side have made a solid rather than spectacular start to their domestic campaign, with 21 points from 11 games leaving them fourth in the Premier League, four points off leaders Manchester City. They have only won one of their last six matches in all competitions, however, and drawn their last four. Anything other than a victory against CSKA will lead to more questions on Van Gaal.

Man United opened their Group B campaign with a 2-1 defeat at PSV Eindhoven, but responded with a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg to move onto three points. The draw in Moscow left the Premier League outfit second, two points behind leaders Wolfsburg. After missing a season of Champions League football, they simply cannot afford to go out in the group stages.

Van Gaal's side will be seeking their first home win against Russian opposition on Tuesday following three draws. Overall, they have only won one of their eight European games against Russian teams, but that was against CSKA in 2009.

Man United are also unbeaten in their last seven home fixtures in European competition, recording six wins in the process. It is now 295 minutes since Anthony Martial registered for the club away at CSKA, however, and they are currently on their longest run without a goal since 2005.

The 20-time English champions have the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, however, and there is no question that Van Gaal has tightened the team at the back. Goals ultimately win trophies, though, and the balance is not quite there at the moment.

Recent form: LWWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): LWDDDD


CSKA Moscow's Russian coach Leonid Slutsky reacts after the UEFA Champions League group B football match between PFC CSKA Moscow and FC Manchester United at the Arena Khimki stadium outside Moscow on October 21, 2015.© Getty Images

While Man United are just stuttering in their domestic league, the same cannot be said for CSKA, who are currently top of the Russian Premier League on 36 points, nine clear at the summit. That means that Leonid Slutsky's side can concentrate on their bid to emerge from Group B and victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday would indeed place them in a strong position.

The Russian outfit lost 1-0 at Wolfsburg in their opening Group B match, but responded with a 3-2 home win over PSV Eindhoven, before drawing with Man United last time out. In fact, since losing at Wolfsburg, CSKA have gone 10 games unbeaten in all competitions, recording seven wins in the process, while they are currently 21 matches without defeat in their domestic league.

CSKA also have previous when it comes to winning in England and indeed winning in Manchester, meanwhile, with the Russian outfit beating Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad in last season's group stage. That was their first ever win away to Premier League opposition, however, with their overall record in England standing at played six, won one, drawn three and lost two.

CSKA made the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the 2009-10 season, before reaching the round of 16 in 2011-12. They fell in the group stages last term, however, and will be keen to make the knockout round this time around. As it stands, Group B is very open with just three points separating top from bottom.

Slutsky's side will enter the match off the back of a 2-0 win over Ufa at the weekend and they have players in good form at the moment, with Seydou Doumbia and Ahmed Musa both scoring on a regular basis in the new campaign. It is a tough ask to go to Manchester and triumph, but CSKA will feel that they can add to Man United's problems.

Recent form: WLWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): LWDDWW

Team News

Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney kicks the ball during the English League Cup third round football match between Manchester United and Ipswich Town at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England on September 23, 2015. © Getty Images

Man United could be without French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who missed a training session on Monday, but Phil Jones is expected to return from the knock that kept him out of the Palace match.

It is too early for Memphis Depay, however, who will remain on the sidelines. Talk of Wayne Rooney's position in the team has grown in recent weeks, but the England skipper is once again expected to lead the line, meaning that Martial will operate from the left.

Further back, Jones's return could mean that Daley Blind drops to the bench, while Michael Carrick, who sat alongside Van Gaal at Monday's pre-match press conference, looks likely to come into the midfield.

As for CSKA, Bibras Natcho will miss out with a head injury, while Vasili Berezutski, who came off injured in the first leg, remains a doubt with a thigh problem. If Vasili does not make it, brother Aleksei Berezutski will come into the team in central defence.

The Russian side have no fresh injury concerns from the weekend, however, and it is expected to be a similar XI to the one that started the reverse match last month.

That will mean an Old Trafford return for Zoran Tosic, while Doumbia, Musa and Roman Eremenko are also expected to start in the final third.

Man United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Carrick, Schweinsteiger; Martial, Herrera, Mata; Rooney

CSKA possible starting lineup:
Akinfeev; Schennikov, A Berezutski, Ignashevich, Mario; Musa, Dzagoev, Wernbloom, Tosic; Eremenko; Doumbia

Head To Head

The pair first met in the group stages of the 2009-10 season. Man United were 1-0 winners in Moscow courtesy of Antonio Valencia's late effort and Valencia was also on the scoresheet in the reverse match at Old Trafford as Man United came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3.

That particular season, Man United finished top of the group with CSKA qualifying second during Slutsky's first game in charge of the Russian outfit.

Among the starters for the English club in the clash at Old Trafford were Federico Macheda, Michael Owen and Wes Brown.

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We say: Man United 2-0 CSKA Moscow

It is expected to be another tough game for Van Gaal's team, but at Old Trafford, they really should have enough to record all the points.

It might not be pretty for long spells with Man United a different animal to previous seasons, but we feel that the home side will have enough to claim a vital win on the night.

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CSKA Moscow manager Leonid Slutski arrives for the UEFA Champions League football match between Manchester City and CSKA Moscow at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on November 5, 2013
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Slutsky: 'CSKA Moscow were fatigued'

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