A few weeks ago, Jose Mourinho might have looked at tonight’s Europa League tie with Zorya Luhansk as an opportunity to field players who have been on the periphery of his starting XIs. Unfortunately, Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Feyenoord in Rotterdam has left them bottom of Group A, and victory will be required in tonight’s game against a team that finished fourth in the Ukranian league last season.
Injuries mean the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw, who could both do with game time after experiencing injuries in recent weeks are unavailable, whilst Mourinho confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would start up front due to Wayne Rooney suffering from a back injury this week.
With that in mind, here’s how we think Mourinho will set his side out tonight:
Despite the need to win tonight’s fixture, it’s likely that United’s starting XI will see several changes from the team that beat Leicester City in the Premier League last weekend. Sergio Romero will likely come in for David De Gea in goal, and with Daley Blind rested having played last week’s EFL Cup tie with Northampton Town, Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling will likely reprise their partnership in the centre of defence. Antonio Valencia and Blind will likely come out for Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian at left and right back.
Midfield is tougher to predict, purely because the central trio of Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba functioned so well together against Leicester but Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini will likely be given starts along with the Frenchman. The Spanish duo will likely be saved for Sunday’s game.
Up front, with Rooney unlikely to start and Henrikh Mkhitaryan still unavailable after the injury he exacerbated during the Manchester derby, Jesse Lingard will likely come into the side on the right-hand side of attack, with Ibrahimovic in his starring role up front. With Anthony Martial not expected to be available after suffering what appeared to be a concussion against Watford, Memphis Depay will potentially be handed another opportunity to impress on the left, which could suit the Dutchman.
Some of his best performances for United last season were against supposedly inferior European opposition, and having struggled to make much of an impression on Mourinho so far, and having failed to feature in any of United’s Premier League starting XI’, now’s as good a time as any for the former PSV Eindhoven forward to make his mark.