Manchester United vs Zorya Luhansk
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016
Venue: Old Trafford
How the mood has changed around the club after a commanding win, Jose Mourinho’s men now go into their Europa League tie against Zorya Luhansk full of confidence, and also with a bit of a selection headache.
Mourinho now has the dilemma of whether to continue to play a winning side from the weekend, or to rest players for Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off against Stoke City.
His biggest decision will be whether he brings back captain Wayne Rooney. United looked a much quicker, more threatening side against Leicester last weekend, however against such an unpredictable side Rooney’s experience may just warrant a place in the team.
The Ukrainian side shouldn’t be underestimated either. Zorya are second in the Ukrainian Premier League, and have only lost one game so far.
But United have to get their Europa League campaign up and running, as currently they’re bottom of Group A on zero points, Feyenoord on three, with Zorya and Fenerbahce both on one.
As well as wanting to finally get points on board in the competition, Mourinho will be keen on prolonging the momentum from the Leicester win for as long as possible.
It wasn’t just a scrappy win, it was a dominant display of the strength, speed and creativity United possess in their ranks, but Mourinho has yet to fully get them firing on all cylinders.
If Leicester was a sign for the future, then every United fan should get excited, however if they put on a disappointing appearance against Zorya on Thursday evening, they’ll have a mountain to climb on the weekend against Stoke.
But it shouldn’t come to that. With Paul Pogba impressing, Marcus Rashford scoring, the pressure has been taken off some of the biggest starts at the club, and we may just finally see a team starting to enjoy their football for the first time this season.
Rooney could be considered to start for the Red Devils after he was dropped to the bench last weekend against Leicester, although he’s nursing a back problem.
Mourinho said during his press conference on Wednesday regarding Rooney:
“I was completely convinced to play with him from the beginning [on Thursday] but with his situation in the last couple of days I am not sure,” Mourinho said.
“With the situation you [the media] create for him, he really can’t afford to have a performance that is not really good. I am here to protect him and not put him in difficult situations.”
Mourinho also confirmed during his press conference that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start for the United in the next two matches then be given a rest, but Luke Shaw will miss out completely due to illness.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also doubtful as he builds up his fitness after an injury that kept him out against Leicester, however he could feature.
Man Utd: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Bailly, Blind; Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Martial, Pogba; Ibrahimovic