Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer has enjoyed a dream return to Manchester United and will seek to ensure that continues when his side host Huddersfield at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
The Norwegian took over from Jose Mourinho on an interim basis on December 19 and three days later guided the Red Devils to a thumping 5-1 win over Cardiff – the first time since the era of Sir Alex Ferguson they had scored so many in a Premier League fixture.
For Huddersfield, a trip to a rejuvenated United could barely have come at a worse time, having suffered five successive losses in the Premier League.
|Game||Manchester United vs Huddersfield|
|Date||Wednesday, December 26|
|Time||3pm GMT/10am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed online with NBC Sports Gold.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|N/A||NBC Sports Gold|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast as it takes place during the blackout period.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Manchester United players|
|Goalkeepers||De Gea, Grant, Romero|
|Defenders||Jones, Dalot, Shaw, Bailly, Young, Darmian, Lindelof|
|Midfielders||Pogba, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Herrera, Lingard, Pereira, Fred, Fellaini, Gomes, Hamilton|
|Forwards||Rashford, Martial, Chong, Bohui|
Striker Romelu Lukaku is on compassionate leave and not expected to return before Wednesday, while Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial are also ruled out.
There are several other absentees in defence, where Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are all missing.
Manchester United starting XI: De Gea, Lindelof, Jones, Pogba, Mata, Fred, Dalot, Shaw, Matic Rashford, Lingard.
Subs: Romero, Bailly, Young, Herrera, Fellaini, Pereira, Gomes.
|Goalkeepers||Lossl, Hamer, Schofield|
|Defenders||Smith, Lowe, Zanka, Schindler, Stankovic, Kongolo, Hadergjonaj, Durm, Jorgensen|
|Midfielders||Hogg, Billing, Sabiri, Van La Parra, Pritchard, Sobhi, Bacuna, Mbenza|
|Forwards||Kachunga, Depoitre, Quaner, Mounie, Diakhaby|
Huddersfield continue into their Boxing Day fixture without long-term problems Tom Smith, Daniel Williams and Aaron Mooy.
Rajiv van la Parra is absent but Jonathan Hogg makes the bench.
Huddersfield starting XI: Lossl, Kongolo, Billing, Kachunga, Mbenza, Depoitre, Pritchard, Zanka, Schindler, Hadergjonaj, Durm.
Subs: Hamer, Hogg, Bacuna, Lowe, Quaner, Mounie, Stankovic.
Betting & Match Odds
Man United are 2/9 favourites to make it two wins from two under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at bet365. A draw is priced at 5/1, while a Huddersfield victory can be backed at 12/1.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s homecoming promises to be a joyous affair, with the interim Manchester United boss eager to give fans something of a late Christmas present in the form of three points.
Solskjaer, though, also brings with him the promise of a more attacking approach than was ever evident under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, and the early indications suggests that entertainment long awaited at the Theatre of Dreams will finally be delivered.
His debut in the dugout was only three minutes old when Marcus Rashford opened the scoring against Cardiff on Saturday, propelling the Red Devils to a 5-1 victory, which offered much promise for the future.
Paul Pogba seemed to be let off the leash and provided as many assists in the Welsh capital at the weekend as he did in the previous 17 league matches, with an expansive 4-3-3 formation in evidence.
Nevertheless, it was not quite as smooth as the manager might have wished.
“In some periods we were too congested, with four or five players on top of each,” he said.
“When we get to work a little bit with each other and understand we can trust each other to do a job, then we can have a little bit more distance and we might even improve.”
That work will have to wait until after the festive flurry of matches, but just as the team’s raw quality was sufficient to carry them past a struggling Cardiff side, Solskjaer will be optimistic that at home against a Huddersfield outfit in even rougher shape it will also be good enough.
“The difference today was that in the first half we weren’t good enough,” Town manager David Wagner lamented after a damaging 2-1 loss to Southampton on Saturday. “We can’t be affected by league position and results because, if this happens, we are not able to perform and, if we can’t perform on our highest level, then we can’t collect points.”
In such form and facing opponents suddenly full of confidence, anything they can take from the Boxing Day fixture would have to be seen as a bonus.