henrikh mkhitaryan injury could see manchester united pay price for fielding strong team against saintetienne
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Henrikh Mkhitaryan injury could see Manchester United pay price for fielding strong team against Saint-Etienne

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Arab Today, arab today Henrikh Mkhitaryan injury could see Manchester United pay price for fielding strong team against Saint-Etienne

Manchester's United's Armenian forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan
France - ArabToday

The unfortunate irony for Manchester United is that a safety-first selection came at a cost. Jose Mourinho took a risk: not in the way many of his peers have done in knockout competitions, when they have been criticised after weakened teams exited in feeble fashion.
But Mourinho gambled out of caution. Four days ahead of the League Cup final, the Portuguese parachuted many of his premier players into a game which many felt they could have been spared. A 3-0 lead felt insufficient to Mourinho. He chose Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who took the drama out of the tie with 74 minutes remaining, and injected worry into United’s week.
The Armenian’s early goal left Saint-Etienne requiring five to progress and, apart from an infamous occasion when Real Madrid lost 5-0 to Barcelona, Mourinho’s teams do not concede five goals. Certainly not in assured European away displays such as this.
Yet they had a different type of loss to contend with. Nine minutes after scoring, Mkhitaryan wandered off, to be replaced by Marcus Rashford. He had pulled up making a run into the Saint-Etienne box and if his removal looked like a precautionary move, so was his selection. It brought questions if Mkhitaryan will be fit to face Southampton at Wembley Stadium. The temptation is to assume not. Given his terrific form in recent weeks, he would be a major loss.
His goal showed his class and, for all the accusations of pragmatism that are levelled at Mourinho, the artistry in United’s ranks. Juan Mata does not need to beat anyone for speed, as he showed by curling a cross around the Saint-Etienne defence.
Mkhitaryan applied the deftest of flicks, looking for precision rather than power and finding the far corner of the net.
Michael Carrick appeared a possible beneficiary of his probable absence. The vice-captain has been sidelined as United have switched from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. Restored in France, he lent control at the base of the midfield, suggesting he could reprise that role alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera at Wembley.
His substitution, with a half-hour remaining, felt like a case of preserving the 35-year-old Englishman for a bigger stage, as well as allowing Bastian Schweinsteiger a rare outing. Yet Carrick had a calf problem. "Three days is not enough," said Mourinho, referring to both stricken midfielders.
One definitely out of a future match, but available at Wembley, is Eric Bailly. The defender will miss the first leg of United’s last-16 tie after collecting two bookings in three minutes and his first red card for his new club.
It brought another enforced substitution – Marcos Rojo for Mata – and meant any plans to take Pogba or Zlatan Ibrahimovic off had to be shelved.
The 35-year-old striker Ibrahimovic completed the game, his 37th of the season, but with the rarity of a player who had struck 17 times in 14 previous outings against Saint-Etienne not finding the net.
Pogba had showed his power, hurdling challenges, his passing range and his attacking intent, threatening to score against a team including his older brother, Saint-Etienne left-back Florentin.
His was another impressive performance and United’s authoritativeness should have been rewarded with a second goal. A lively Rashford was denied by Stephane Ruffier after a fine pass from Daley Blind and a swift break.
At the other end, Sergio Romero celebrated his 30th birthday with a third consecutive start and a rather comfortable clean sheet. David de Gea was rested, along with Antonio Valencia. The banned Herrera did not figure either, and, by the end, it was tempting to wonder if Mourinho wished he had given others of his automatic choices a night off. "You can be injured leaving your house or in your garden," he rationalised. But that was not where Carrick and Mkhitaryan were hurt.

Source: The National

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henrikh mkhitaryan injury could see manchester united pay price for fielding strong team against saintetienne henrikh mkhitaryan injury could see manchester united pay price for fielding strong team against saintetienne

 



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henrikh mkhitaryan injury could see manchester united pay price for fielding strong team against saintetienne henrikh mkhitaryan injury could see manchester united pay price for fielding strong team against saintetienne

 



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