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Why Manchester United are playing Astana at 3.50pm on a weekday

Manchester United travel Astana on Thursday knowing they already have a spot in the Europa League last-32 – which takes place next year.

As the Reds prepare to field a youthful line-up, which could result in a number of first team debuts, another unusual issue for United fans is Thursday’s kick-off time. 

Ole Gunnar’s Solskjaer will take on their opponents at 3.50pm UK time on Thursday afternoon, which differs from the 5.55pm or 8pm kick-off times that Europa League teams normally take part in. 

The reason why United will kick-off earlier than normal is down to the time difference in Kazakhstan, which is six hours ahead of the UK.

That means Solskjaer’s squad will play at 9.50pm local time, with their match set to finish just before midnight – while it will only be 6pm in Manchester. 

United are not the only English team to have played in an early kick-off at 3.50pm in the Europa League. 

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Unai Emery’s Arsenal took on Portuguese side Vitoria SC at the same kick-off time in early November, with their Europa League contest taking place on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday. 

However, United arguably have the more difficult circumstances to endure, as the current temperature in Kazakhstan is currently sitting at -20C. 

As a result of those freezing temperatures, the United players will be playing on an artificial pitch, with the stadium move set to be closed to reduce the cold. 

It won’t be much of a help though, as the temperature is still predicted to sit at around -5C even with those provisions.

United players will be in for a chilly afternoon then.

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