Manchester United v PSG, Tuesday 12th February, 20:00
Our boys have been in devastating form with 10 wins from 11 unbeaten games across all competitions under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, leaving us with by far the best record over that spell amongst the English sides.
There have even been some clean sheets creeping in, with five from our last eight, and PSG fans will no doubt be feeling a sense of trepidation that they won’t have experienced when the knockout draw was first made.
The Parisians enter this clash having suffered a first league defeat away at Lyon last weekend, before needing extra-time against third-tier Villefranche midweek, while their 1-0 win at home over Bordeaux in their last outing was hardly all that convincing.
What will really make the visitors nervous is their record on the road in Europe when facing the top sides, suffering a 6-1 defeat at Barcelona as they crashed out at the last 16 in 2016/17, 3-1 losses at Bayern and Real Madrid last term as they went out at the same stage, while Liverpool overcame them 3-2 this season when they were in far better shape.
Solskjaer has rarely deviated from playing one striker up top, despite claiming Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku could play together on his arrival in the hot seat, though it’s been the correct call as the one time he’s paired the two from the off was the only time his team have failed to win.
Lukaku didn’t do anything to suggest he can displace Rashford as the spearhead of attack at Fulham and it’s particularly important to pack the midfield against PSG – who are stretched thin to breaking point in that area – as it will be key to overrunning the French champions.
Whereas Jose Mourinho would instruct Lukaku to play with his back to goal, despite his heavy first touch making him unsuited to the role, Solskjaer wants his forwards to make runs in behind.
PSG’s 34-year-old captain Thiago Silva may well struggle with the kind of pace and mobility a front three of Rashford, Marital and Lingard can provide, and if the midfield battle is won, there should be no shortage of incisive passes from Pogba in the middle to orchestrate proceedings.
Unlike PSG, who are enduring an injury nightmare that just got worse this weekend, Solskjaer has virtually a full complement to choose from.
Those who are absent (Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian) would have found themselves behind Ashley Young in the pecking order at right-back anyway, with the 33-year-old Englishman putting in some diligent performances of late, while youngster Diego Dalot provides the real competition in that position these days.
Alexis Sanchez briefly threatened to give Anthony Martial some competition for a place on the left-hand side of our attack with a goal-scoring performance versus former club Arsenal.
However, he was virtually anonymous when handed a start against Leicester, while he fluffed his lines at Fulham from the bench when clean through on goal. Martial and Pogba ran the show this weekend and the former has received warm (if excessive in reality) words of praise from the Norwegian.
The comparison with Ronaldo is generous to say the least, but it is clever man management from Solskjaer as he places faith in one of the major bright spots of our season to date.
PSG’s record away to the big guns of Europe is absolutely terrible for a club with the resources they possess.
They can often struggle to adjust to the refined quality away from the comparatively weaker Ligue 1, while they arguably face Europe’s most in-form team at present.
Add to the mix some pressing injury concerns and we look more than a fair price to take the spoils.
*all odds are subject to change