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Tuesday 14 May 2013

Barclays U21s: United aiming for Old Trafford fillip

Ahead of their semi-final against Liverpool, we look at Manchester United's Under-21s

Adnan Januzaj shields the ball from Tottenham's Grant Hall during Manchester Utd's 1-0 win

Throughout the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League premierleague.com has brought the latest news and results from the competition.

As the competition enters its final stages we look more closely at the teams taking part in the knock-out stage.

After finishing runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur in the Elite Group, Manchester United will host Liverpool, who came third in the same section, in the second semi-final at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. The match, which kicks off 7pm, is free entry for executive members, season-ticket holders and official members. For non-members admission costs £5 for adults and £2 for under-16 and over-65 non-members. More details here.

Adam Marshall, of Manchester United's website, manutd.com, tells us more about the United team.

Man United's season so far

Played 26; Won 12; Drawn 9; Lost 5; Goals for: 36; Goals against: 26.
Phase 1: 2nd (Group 2)
Phase 2: 2nd (Elite Group)
Final stage: 14 May v Liverpool (H), Old Trafford, 7pm (semi-final).

Three players to watch out for

Adnan Januzaj (18) A real creative spark and somebody who is ahead of schedule in terms of his progress. Learning his trade by playing in a number of attacking roles, he is an exciting talent to watch.

Tom Thorpe (20) Arguably the stand-out performer this season and certainly one of the most consistent. After being asked to hone his skills in a holding-midfield role, the skipper has excelled since moving to his preferred centre-back role.

Jesse Lingard (20) Impressed on tour last summer for the first team but has had to be patient and spent a short spell away with Leicester City on loan. Since returning, he has knuckled down and rediscovered top form, providing penetration and a real goal threat.

What style of play do the team have?

A 4-4-1-1 system. Warren Joyce has had very limited attacking options, particularly since the Elite Group started this year, and has had to alter his formation accordingly. A very fluid system has evolved with defenders sometimes operating in midfield and lively forwards, such as Januzaj, Lingard and Nick Powell, alternating to compensate for the lack of an out-and-out centre-forward with Will Keane missing all season.

What are your team’s strengths?

Defensively, United have been outstanding and have kept a number of clean sheets. This responsibility runs through the whole team and a number of opponents have struggled to even come close to testing the goalkeeper. There is enough flair to carve out chances at the other end but certain matches, including the 0-0 draw with 10-man Wolves at home, have exposed some of the attacking limitations.

What has been your team’s highlight match of the second stage?

Beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 was a tremendous performance, considering that Spurs were leading the table by some margin at the time and had Younes Kaboul in defence during the first half. It was a first game at a new venue, the Salford City Stadium, and was well attended with United running out worthy winners despite the narrow scoreline.

Who is the manager?

Warren Joyce A hard-working midfielder with Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End and Hull City, he took sole charge of the reserves in 2010 and has enjoyed great success coaching the youngsters. In 2011 the former Royal Antwerp manager was reportedly targeted by Hull City, where he is still remembered fondly for a fine spell as player-manager, but has remained a key member of the backroom staff at Old Trafford.

Leading appearances

Larnell Cole 25, Tom Thorpe 24, Michele Fornasier 20, Ryan Tunnicliffe 20.

Leading goalscorers

Federico Macheda 6, Jesse Lingard 5, Nick Powell 5.

Senior players to have featured in the Under-21s

Anders Lindegaard, Anderson, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Alexander Buttner and Darren Fletcher .

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Ahead of the final stage of the Barclays U21 Premier League we look at the participating teams
  • Adam Marshall, of Manchester United, tells us more about his club's Under-21s
  • Warren Joyce's charges face rivals in the semi-final

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