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UEFA Europa League: Manchester United vs Fenerbahce preview

Robin van Persie returns to Old Trafford on Thursday evening as Manchester United host Fenerbahce in the Europa League.

The Dutchman made 105 appearances for United between 2012 and 2015, scoring 58 times and played a key part in helping the club to a record 20th league title.

"It will be a special occasion and a special game for me," Van Persie told MUTV. "I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play 'at home' in a great stadium with great fans against a great team."

While the striker is expected to get a rapturous reception at Old Trafford, it will be a different story for defender Martin Skrtel, who joined Fenerbahce earlier this summer after eight long years at Liverpool.

Fenerbahce are unbeaten after the first two Group A games, leaving it late to salvage a point against Zorya Luhansk on matchday one, before beating Feyenoord 1-0 last time out, courtesy of an early Emmanuel Emenike strike. Dick Advocaat's men sit top of the group standings, just one point ahead of the Manchester United.

The Turkish outfit have drawn their last two domestic games—a 1-1 draw at Osmanlispor on the Sunday, and were also held by the same scoreline to Alanyaspor. But they have the attacking firepower former Reds Van Persie and on-loan Sunderland striker Jeremain Lens, who gives pace going forward.

Manchester United have also drawn their last two domestic games—with Stoke City and Liverpool. In the press conference, Jose Mourinho has refused to give any hints about his starting line-up for the game, but did confirm Luke Shaw will be named in the side. Playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has missed seven games because of a thigh problem, has recovered fully and could be in contention to feature at Old Trafford.


Skipper Wayne Rooney could start the game ahead of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while French duo Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin have returned to training, and are available for selection against Fenerbahce.

The Portuguese said he will field a "strong" side as a "difficult week" continues with a Europa League match against Fenerbahce.

"It's a very difficult week for us. Monday, Thursday, Sunday; Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea. It's a special week. We have to be ready," he said.

Man United and Fenerbahce have met on four previous occasions - the first of which resulted in a 2-0 win for the Reds in 1996. The most memorable meeting between the sides came in September 2004, when Rooney scored a debut hat-trick to guide United to a 6-2 win at Old Trafford.

The most recent visit to Istanbul came later that season, and saw the Turkish side run out 3-0 winners, all thanks to Tuncay Sanli, a former Middlesbrough and Stoke City striker.

This will be United’s third game in Europa League Group A and the first of a double-header with Fenerbahce. If the Turkish giants fail to beat Zorya Luhansk in Rotterdam, a home win would lift Jose Mourinho's team to the top of the table.

Expect a stiff challenge for the Red Devils as Van Persie awaits his opportunity, this time with Fenerbahce, to shine once again at the dazzling Old Trafford stadium.

Tune into Ten 2 and for live streaming the match between Manchester United and Fenerbahce on Friday from 00.30am. 

Author: ROHAN SENGUPTA    Source: tensports

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