Manchester United’s Premier League unbeaten streak stretched to 16 games on Saturday as they comfortably beat Watford 2-0 at Old Trafford, and their only defeat in their last 22 games in all competitions was their loss away to Hull in the League Cup semi final second leg.
They have played out more than their fair share of draws during this period though, and as you can probably guess by their first leg of this clash being at Old Trafford, their Europa League group stage campaign wasn’t without it’s troubles either.
They won four of their six games but lost away to both Fenerbahce and Feyenoord to finish the group in 2nd, a point adrift of winners Fenerbahce. It’s clear that this competition isn’t Jose Mourinho’s main focus this season, but with their hopes of lifting the Premier League all but over this does qualify as a very good chance to lay their hands on a trophy this season. I expect the race for the Premier League top four will still take precedent though.
At home Manchester United are unbeaten since September, winning 13 and drawing six of their 19 matches since that defeat to Manchester City. However, St Etienne could provide a tough test. The visitors currently sit 5th in Ligue 1 and are just a point adrift of Lyon in 4th.
They beat Lorient 4-0 at home on Sunday to make it five wins, two draws, and four defeats from their last 11 games in all competitions. Away from home they have won three of their last eight games though, losing four times.
St Etienne did perform well in the Europa League though, winning three and drawing three of their group games to remain unbeaten in the competition, resulting in a top of the group finish for them ahead of 2nd placed Anderlecht.
Their difficulty to beat comes as a result of their general defensive setup. There were five goals in their final group game away to Anderlecht, but prior to that they had seen just six goals in their five group games and four of these six ended with fewer than three goals.
Manchester United have struggled against defensively sound teams at home this season as well, and it shows with nine of their last 15 home games seeing fewer than three goals. Two of their high scoring matches came against lower league opposition in the League Cup too, and with St Etienne likely to shut up shop and try to take an even tie back to France, I think this could be a low scoring affair.