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Preview: Manchester United vs. Huddersfield Town - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the Premier League clash between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day.

Manchester United play host to Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day having recorded a dominant 5-1 success over Cardiff City in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first game in charge.

David Wagner's Huddersfield make the short trip to Old Trafford having suffered five successive defeats in the top flight.

Manchester United

Interim Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watches on during his side's Premier League clash with Cardiff City on December 22, 2018© Reuters

Solskjaer was successful in getting his United stint off to the perfect start on Saturday, but the adulation which greeted the victory in South Wales further highlighted the downturn which United have taken under Jose Mourinho.

Much has been made of the board's decision to hand the reins to someone who is unproven at the highest level, but the mood at Old Trafford has been lifted and that was one of the immediate issues facing Solskjaer.

The Norwegian has been provided with almost the perfect fixture list to get United back on track, and scoring five goals away at a team who have been putting results together in front of their own supporters was a dream result for the new caretaker boss.

That will naturally lead to Solskjaer being provided with a rapturous reception when he steps out on the tunnel on Boxing Day, but it is important for the former forward to keep everyone's feet on the ground during an important period for the club.

Chelsea's defeat to Leicester City has reduced the gap to fourth place to eight points, and with United playing before Arsenal and the Blues face away games at Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford respectively, the door is ajar to put some pressure on their nearest rivals.

Achieving a place in next season's Champions League has already been written off by some, but an emphatic win over a struggling Huddersfield side may lead to the tide slowly turning back in United's favour.

Solskjaer has previously alluded to the fact that the majority of his squad will get chances over a hectic period, and perhaps the biggest task ahead of Wednesday's contest is to decide who to leave out with Bournemouth to come three days later.

Nevertheless, whoever is introduced into the team on Wednesday or against Bournemouth on Saturday are going to be playing in a refreshed environment and the upturn in atmosphere is likely to benefit the whole squad, not just those who are selected in the first XI.

Recent form: DDDWLW
Recent form (all competitions): DDWLLW

Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner pictured on November 5, 2018© Reuters

Wagner would have been confident that his team were only going to build on a run of seven points from three games during November, but Huddersfield now find themselves back in a rut heading into the Christmas period.

The club's fixture list after the victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers had appeared kind with four games coming against teams who they would consider on a similar level to themselves, but defeats were suffered in each of them and Wagner must find a way to get his side back on track.

Huddersfield are currently four points adrift of safety ahead of the trip to Old Trafford, and although Wagner will have an eye on the triple-header which follows, the German will be aware that his players cannot afford to capitulate at the Theatre of Dreams.

Fulham, Cardiff City and Burnley are the club's opponents after the trip to the North-West, and Wagner knows that results from those fixtures are likely to make or break the rest of their season.

There will be opportunities to sign new players next month, and the focus is likely to be placed on the final third with Huddersfield having only scored 11 goals from 18 matches in the top flight.

No player has netted more than two goals or contributed more than two assists, and Huddersfield will only remain with a chance of staying in the division if those problems are rectified.

That said, Wagner was given the freedom to push through nine first-team additions during the summer, and there is an argument that each of those signings are yet to pay off.

That leaves Wagner and the club's owners in a position where they must assess whether to stick or twist for the rest of the campaign, and any movements in the transfer market could depend on the club's results over the next three weeks.

Recent form: WLLLLL

Team News

Marcus Rashford celebrates his late winner during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Manchester United on November 3, 2018© Reuters

Solskjaer must decide whether to make changes to a winning team, but his attack could remain the same with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both impressing at Cardiff.

Juan Mata is a potential inclusion having not been used in South Wales, while Eric Bailly could replace Phil Jones if Solskjaer chooses to be cautious over the centre-back's fitness.

Paul Pogba should keep his place in the team, with Fred the most likely inclusion in midfield should Solskjaer opt to rest either Nemanja Matic or Ander Herrera.

Chris Smalling could potentially make the bench after a foot problem, but Romelu Lukaku is expected to remain on compassionate leave.

Wagner is likely to make a number of changes to his Huddersfield side after criticising the performance during the defeat against Southampton.

Erik Durm and Elias Kachunga could both be given opportunities having come off the bench against the Saints, while Laurent Depoitre is a possible replacement for Steve Mounie.

Rajiv van La Parra and Jonathan Hogg may return to the squad after respective back and knee problems, although the latter may be kept on the sidelines until later in the Christmas period.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial

Huddersfield Town possible starting lineup:
Lossl; Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo; Durm, Bacuna, Billing, Lowe; Pritchard; Kachunga, Depoitre

Head To Head

The game on Boxing Day will represent the 49th competitive encounter between the two clubs, with United recording 22 wins in comparison to 11 victories for Huddersfield.

Just three games have taken place since 1972, with each of those contests being played since Huddersfield earned promotion to the Premier League last year.

The Terriers won at their home ground during the last campaign, but United have prevailed by a 2-0 scoreline on two occasions during 2018.

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We say: Manchester United 4-0 Huddersfield Town

Solskjaer will be given the warmest of receptions when he makes his way into the Old Trafford dugout on Wednesday, and we expect the Norwegian to deliver another comfortable win against a Terriers side who have lost their way over the past month.

Who will win the Boxing Day clash between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town?

Manchester United
Huddersfield Town
Manchester United
Huddersfield Town
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Paul Pogba in action for Manchester United during his side's Premier League clash with Everton on October 28, 2018
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