Jose Mourinho’s aim to bring the premier league title back to Old Trafford for the first time since 2013 took a massive blow this week as it was revealed that defender Eric Bailly would be ruled out of action for up two months a situation that has seen Online Betting sites rating Manchester United fifth favourites for the Premier league title.
The Ivorian suffered a knee injury during the United’s recent 4-0 defeat to Stamford Bridge on Sunday after clashing with Eden Hazard early in the second half.
Bailly’s injury now leaves Mourinho without his first choice centre back for the coming months ahead and with crucial games against the likes of Manchester City, Burnley, and Fenerbahce all to come we take a look at how the Portuguese may line-up his United side without the Ivorian leading from the back.
Mourinho is likely to persist with his much favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with four spread across the back, two in central midfield, two wide men out on the flanks, one in the advanced number ten role and a lone forward up top.
In between the sticks for United David De Gea will remain as ever present. The Spaniard hasn’t quite hit the heights of the previous campaigns but still stands as one of the finest goalkeepers in Europe and without Bailly he will no doubt have to be at the top of his game should he wish to keep the opposition at bay.
At right-back Antonio Valencia is likely to keep his place in the side over Matteo Darmian. In Bailly’s absence Daley Blind is expected to be moved in from left-back to partner Chris Smalling in the heart of United’s defence whilst at left-back Luke Shaw will return to the starting eleven following Blind’s switch to centre-back.
Acting as the holding defensive midfielder is likely to be Ander Herrera. The Spaniard has arguably been United’s standout performer of late and Mourinho will again look to use Herrera to speed up play in the centre of the pitch and protect the back four. Alongside Herrera new club record signing Paul Pogba will continue to be given the freedom of the pitch by Mourinho as he bids to finds his top form.
Out on the right hand of midfield Jesse Lingard is expected to keep his place in the side over the likes of Memphis and Mkhitaryan. Lingard’s excellent work rate and ability to track back makes him a real asset for Mourinho and with Bailly missing from the backline Lingard’s ability to track back will ever be more important to the side whilst on the left hand side Marcus Rashford will continue to keep his place in the eleven following a run of impressive performances.
Playing in the more advanced number ten role Juan Mata is likely to be given the nod over club skipper Wayne Rooney who will remain on the substitutes bench. The number ten role remains one of the most important areas on the field and in Mata the Portuguese has a player on his hands who fits that bill perfectly.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will continue to lead the United attack as he bids to regain his early season goal scoring form.