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Manchester United FC may be wobbling in the Premier League but FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu is not expecting anything but a demanding evening at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
"Even though they are not playing well, these are two different competitions and you can't really compare them," said Lucescu, whose side will guarantee progress from Group A along with United if they win. For their part, United are through but require a point to top the group and David Moyes is keen for his side to bounce back from two rare consecutive home league defeats over the last week. If Shakhtar draw they must hope Bayer 04 Leverkusen do not beat Real Sociedad de Fútbol; if Shakhtar lose they need Leverkusen to be defeated.
David Moyes, manager
It's important to give ourselves the best possible chance in the next round but the big job was to make sure that we qualify from the group. That part is done and hopefully we can finish off the group unbeaten. And if we do that then that will see us through.
We've been inconsistent at times. We've played very well in some of the games in the Champions League, not so well in the Premier League games – albeit we've lacked a little bit of the good fortune in one or two of the games which might have made the difference.
I think there's a bit of everything [that we] could do with getting better. We'd like to generally play better but we'd like to pass it better, we'd like to create more chances. We'd like to defend better when those moments arise. I don't think it's any one thing. I think it's all round that we are trying to improve. But it was only a few weeks ago when we had beaten Arsenal here and we had beaten Leverkusen, and we were talking very well about the team.
I take complete responsibility for the results. Fortunately, they've been good in the Champions League but they've not been good in the Premier League, so I take responsibility for them as well, and I would like them to be much better – and I've got no doubt they will be.
Saturday: United 0-1 Newcastle United FC (Cabaye 61)
De Gea, Rafael (Valencia 76), Evans, Vidić, Evra, Nani (Zaha 68), Cleverley (Anderson 69), Jones, Januzaj, Hernández, Van Persie.
• Including their 1-0 loss to Everton FC last Wednesday, United have now suffered back-to-back league defeats at Old Trafford for the first time since May 2002. Their 22-point tally from 15 games is 14 fewer than at the same stage last term.
Michael Carrick has not played since 10 November because of an Achilles injury, while Shinji Kagawa has been ill but Moyes expects him to feature. [On resting players] There's a little bit of that in my thinking but we've also got one or two injuries that I'll need to look after and that comes into my into consideration as well for the game."
Mircea Lucescu, coach
Even though they are not playing well, these are two different competitions and you can't really compare them. In the Premier League, the English teams know each other and the teams they are playing, but with the Champions League it is a totally different situation. For Manchester United it is a must-win match as they want to win so they can top the group and for our part we are going to play our best as it is important for us to progress as well.
I watched both defeats, against Everton and Newcastle. When they were playing Everton it was David Moyes' former team so they were playing with special enthusiasm and motivation, but when they played Newcastle it was like they had lost their spark a bit. The result of the game does depend on some small things, though. For example, if they got a penalty for the handball against Newcastle, it could have been completely different.
Every manager knows their squad back to front and each individual player, and each manager has his own style. Some prefer to rotate to keep the squad fresh and some prefer to keep the same team. In David Moyes' case he likes to rotate his team but the squad is very strong and therefore the quality of the players doesn't diminish.
Shakhtar were not in action at the weekend as the winter break is under way in Ukraine. Lucescu's side rounded off 2013 last Tuesday with a 1-0 win at FC Chornomorets Odesa, Luiz Adriano scoring the only goal just before half-time. Their next domestic fixture will be on 1 March when they travel to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the league.
• Shakhtar are five points clear at the league summit going into the winter break. That said, their tally of 41 points from 18 games is ten fewer than they had at this stage last term and their worst return since 2008/09, the last time they failed to win the championship.
Shakhtar are at full strength and were visited at their hotel in north-west England by former player Fernandinho, now at Manchester City FC, on the eve of the game.
• Having beaten both Leverkusen and Real Sociedad at Old Trafford, United are seeking a hat-trick of home wins in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2007/08.
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