By Mark Weasley
Manchester United, despite a brilliant start to the season have fallen eight points behind league leaders, Manchester City who look like they are running away with the league title. We lost our last game at Chelsea, a match in which José Mourinho was criticised for not taking the initiative to attack the league champions, who have looked below par all season.
There is good news however, as reports suggest that the likes of Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all nearing full fitness and will be available for selection ahead of the hectic festive schedule of next month. We take a look at how José could use his team to get the best results.
Spanish number 1, David de Gea has been in superb form all season, keeping 8 clean sheets in 11 league matches. The former Atletico Madrid shotstopper is widely regarded as the best player in his department in world football and is the undisputed starter for our great club.
Right winger cum right back, Antonio Valencia has been imperious all season offering defensive solidity and creativity down that right side and is the de facto club captain given that Michael Carrick has struggled for gametime all season. In the heart of the defence, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have struck what looks like a decent partnership and should continue to keep the likes of Lindelof and Smalling out of the team for now.
At left back, the imminent return of Argentinean powerhouse, Marcos Rojo is a plus to Jose, as his commitment and quality is not in doubt, but his fitness will need to come up to speed as he has been out injured for the past seven months following a nasty knee injury back in April.
A three-man midfield is expected to be back in Jose’s thought given that Pogba is back from injury. The 24 year old is expected to be joined in the middle of the park by former Chelsea destroyer, Nemanja Matic who has bedded into life at Old Trafford seamlessly. Ander Herrera is set to benefit if Jose changes his formation.
The Spanish midfielder was our Player of the Year last season but has not displayed that form consistently this new season. Further forward at the tip of the diamond should be Marcus Rashford. The English youngster has matured this season, offering consistency in his game and making the right decisions in different circumstances during games.
Summer signing, Romelu Lukaku has not scored since the end of September but the return of charismatic Swede, Ibrahimovic should be the spark he needs to get his season back on track. 36 year old striker, Zlatan doesn’t play second fiddle to anybody meaning that if the Belgian striker wants to keep his place in the starting eleven, he has to show his quality like he did at the beginning of the season.
Probable lineup: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Bailly, Rojo, Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Rashford, Zlatan, Lukaku.