As much as Louis van Gaal can point to league position and a return to European competition as an illustration of Manchester United’s improvement, the month of October leans heavily against him in the style war with Paul Scholes.
There has been a back and forth between current manager and former midfielder for the past week, with the Dutchman accused of sucking the entertainment out of the once free-flowing Red Devils.
The criticism is valid. In the past month, United have scored just four goals in all competitions, won once and have drawn four in a row, the last three of which have been goalless.
CSKA Moscow started that stalemate streak and visit Old Trafford in the second of the Champions League’s double-header section having lost just twice all season.
Both defeats came in this competition, away from home. However, with Van Gaal’s side looking so insipid up front, there is little appeal to the 4/7 about United becoming the third side in that trend.
In keeping with the general theme of inseparability, the pair meet with identical records in Group B. With just two games following this one, the importance not to lose is vital.
It’s therefore unlikely that Van Gaal will veer too far from his formula of recent weeks; Anthony Martial off the left wing, with Wayne Rooney left to frustrate through the middle.
Beyond a 3-0 win over Everton that tactic has left United defensively sturdy, but toothless in attack and a repeat of it should see a punt on under 2.5 match goals land at odds of 10/11.
That price is flipped for Manchester United to strike under 1.5 times in the game, which looks superb value considering they’ve managed it just once in the last six outings.
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