Ever since Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up his fifth booking of the season during Manchester United’s 1-3 victory over Swansea City, it feels like everyone has been trying to guess who Jose Mourinho will start up front in his team’s next game. To an extent, that’s understandable; it’s Arsenal who visit Old Trafford tomorrow, and whilst some of the spice that used to be present in these fixtures is absent, the revival of Mourinho’s rivalry with Arsene Wenger, a manager that has never beaten him in a competitive fixture, certainly makes the occasion more interesting.
Of course, the reality of United’s situation will be Mourinho’s priority come Saturday lunchtime is far more pressing; they currently sit in 6th, six points behind Saturday’s opponents who occupy fourth spot, and eight from the joint-top trio of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. United cannot afford to fall too much further behind this season’s early pacesetters, which means a positive, or at least effective display will be needed from Mourinho’s men on Saturday to make sure they aren’t out of the Premier League title picture before Christmas.
With that in mind, who should Mourinho start in place of Ibrahimovic? He has several options; Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. But who should get the nod?
Unfortunately, Rooney has been in the headlines for something other than his football this week, after The Sun posted photos of him inebriated having gatecrashed a wedding after England’s 3-0 victory over Scotland last weekend. Rooney also missed Tuesday’s friendly with Spain at Wembley with a knee injury, and even without this, his form has hardly been scintillating enough to warrant being thrown back into the side as a striker just because Ibrahimovic is absent.
Martial would be a better option, but given the Frenchman appears to be in the middle of a difficult second season in English football, it’s unlikely that Mourinho would pick him. The former AS Monaco forward has notched two goals so far this term, but has been in and out of the side and suffered injuries that have hampered his availability.
As such, it should be Rashford that gets the nod. And if you believe daily mirror, Mourinho has decided upon this. The England international has four goals so far this term from his position on the left of attack, and, despite playing second fiddle to the Swede, he’s maintained the fearlessness and confidence that made him such an impactful presence last season under Louis van Gaal.