Jose Mourinho claims he will rest star names at Arsenal....but they have all travelled to London
All but one of Manchester United’s fit and available senior players boarded the team train to London on Saturday afternoon, even though manager Jose Mourinho has claimed he is ready to name a second string team for Sunday’s Premier League game at Arsenal.
With Mourinho confirming the second leg of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo next Thursday is a bigger priority than the clash at Emirates Stadium, he has vowed to pick a much-changed line-up against the Gunners.
Even though United are still in the mix for a top four finish in the Premier League and head into the Arsenal game four points behind fourth placed Liverpool with a game in hand, Mourinho believes victory in the Europa League - and the Champions League qualification it guarantees - is a more realistic route into Europa’s elite competition.
United hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg of their clash against Celta Vigo, yet he has given himself the option of naming a strong team against Arsenal by taking a powerful first team squad to London.
“We are going to try,” stated Mourinho. “We are not going to Arsenal to say ‘beat us’, or ‘beat us 5 or 6-0’, we are going there to fight for a result, but we have to change the team.
“It’s impossible. I cannot do it in another way. If Celta was playing with their best team, if Celta was fighting for important things in La Liga, we would go in the same circumstances, but I cannot now play with the same team that played here, and then repeat again on the next Thursday.
“So, we have to be human with the players, we have to be sensible and common sense in relation to our situation in the Premier League, and I think the last match against Swansea was last our last chance to fight for top four, so I am going to rest players, sure.”
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini is suspended, with Luke Shaw and Ashley Young among those out injured, yet United could still field a powerful side against the Gunners.
David De Gea, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney could all be in line to start against Arsenal, with youngsters Matthew Olusunde, Matty Willock and Scott McTominay and Demetri Mitchell among the young players who could get some first team exposure.
Possible United team: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Jones, Willock, Carrick, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Rooney.