Despite some disquiet from the club’s supporters regarding their style of football, it cannot be disputed that it has been an excellent couple of weeks or so for United, beginning with victory in their last European match at home to CSKA Moscow. They had been frustrated for long periods of that encounter and looked to be running out of ideas when Wayne Rooney found himself in the right place at the right time to net the only goal.
It was a moment which emphasised the fine margins which exist in football, with Seydou Doumbia coming agonisingly close to putting the Russians in front just moments earlier. Had he done so and CSKA Moscow gone on to win, it would be they rather than Man Utd who would have been leading the group with a chance of making it through on match day five. As it is, United are top, one point above PSV and Wolfsburg, while CSKA Moscow are bottom but still with a chance of qualification for the last 16.
After that win, United then went into the international break by seeing off West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford in none too flamboyant fashion, and returned to action on Saturday with a dramatic success away to Watford, where they recovered from the setback of conceding a late equaliser by still finding time to plunder a winner. It was a great show of spirit, and one which lifted them above rivals Arsenal and Manchester City to second in the Premier League ahead of a meeting with leaders Leicester City next weekend.
So the Red Devils will be confident coming into this one despite an increasingly extensive injury list. One man who did benefit from that on Saturday however was Memphis Depay, whose form and commitment has been called into question of late for both club and country. He came up with the perfect response by finishing off a fine cross for the opener at Watford, and after scoring away to PSV in September, he would surely like to remind his former club of his quality once again.
Winners of the Eredivisie last season, PSV currently find themselves second this time around and four points off the pace being set by Ajax having been held to a draw by Willem II at the weekend. That is despite getting the better of their rivals at the Amsterdam ArenA in early October, with the team having been let down a little by their defensive record so far, and they have been inconsistent in their Champions League campaign, losing two in a row before overcoming Wolfsburg last time out.
United are hoping that Wayne Rooney can recover from illness in time to play a part, but they are likely to remain without Marouane Fellaini, Anthony Martial and Michael Carrick, while Ander Herrera was forced off at Watford and may also be unavailable.