Manchester United v Valencia Tuesday, 20:00 Live on BT Sport 2
Tough times at Old Trafford
Sometimes, a team can ignore behind-the-scenes friction, or even use it as a catalyst. But that doesn't seem to be the case with this Manchester United side, whose recent performances have been sluggish enough to turn up the pressure dial even further. José Mourinho has lived through some tough moments in his managerial career, but it'll take some feat of escapology to get out of this mess alive.
The Paul Pogba saga continues to rumble on, but Mourinho seemed keen to send another message against West Ham at the weekend: the sight of Scott McTominay lining up in a back three presumably didn't go down especially well with actual centre-backs Eric Bailly and Phil Jones. With Alexis Sánchez also on thin ice, there are little issues brewing all through the squad.
Could Europe offer some solace? It might, if the simple win over Young Boys was anything to go by, but United will have to work around a few absences here, with Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young all missing training on Monday morning. The squad is deep enough to cope, but will everyone be motivated to go to battle for their manager?
Valencia struggling for rhythm
It was one of the stories of last season: Valencia, after a spell in the doldrums, channelled their glory days again to finish fourth in Spain, wowing fans and neutrals alike with their quicksilver attacking play. But if they were hoping to maintain the momentum into this campaign, they have been disappointed so far. After seven rounds in La Liga, they sit 14th.
They will go up from there, but Marcelino must be worried about their output in the final third: in eight competitive games, they have scored just five times. That is laughably few for a squad containing Rodrigo Moreno, Michy Batshuayi, Kevin Gameiro, Gonçalo Guedes, Santi Mina and Denis Cheryshev, and speaks to a slight lack of lack of creativity from the centre of the park.
But there were signs of improvement against Real Sociedad at the weekend (1-0) and at least the defence - boosted by the arrival of Mouctar Diakhaby from Lyon in the summer - has been solid. Their European campaign started limply, with a 2-0 defeat to Juventus, but if the old confidence returns, they could yet be contenders in the group.
Can visitors pile more misery on Mou?
United were clinical rather than devastating at home in the Champions League group stage last term, grinding their way past Benfica and CSKA Moscow after an easy win over Basel. But they were then undone by a street-smart Sevilla side, and recent form - they've now gone three games without a win - has been far from impressive.
With Tottenham, Wolves, Derby already having shaken them up at Old Trafford this term, there's plenty of inspiration for Valencia if they look for it. The only question is whether Los Che have the cutting edge to profit from United's fragility. We're slightly sceptical on that front, but there's a decent chance of them claiming a draw at 3.95.
Goals at a premium
Seven of eight Valencia games this term have gone under the 2.5-goal mark, and it's unlikely that a trip to Manchester will prompt Marcelino to really go for broke, given how things went against Juve. United are a harder team to predict on the goals front, with that defensive looseness uncharacteristic for a Mourinho side, but this could well be a slow-burn affair against a solid side. The unders is the pick at 2.08.