Sports

Mourinho drops Mkhitaryan, confirms 'not a pure tactical decision'

Mourinho drops Mkhitaryan, confirms 'not a pure tactical decision'

Three thoughts on Manchester United's 3-0 win vs.

After opening his campaign with Manchester United on a rampage - scoring 11 in his first 10 appearances, the Belgian has had it rough in front of goal since then - scoring 5 in the next 21.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has admitted Zlatan Ibrahimovic's time at the top level is nearly at its end. As mentioned, Antonio Valencia is in line for a start at Old Trafford on Monday night after recovering from a hamstring injury.

United's pursuit of Sanchez continues - and you get the feeling it could one that rumbles on for a while. In Mourinho's pre-match (against Stoke) talks, the Portuguese confirmed that the striker is still injured and "is not totally happy with his condition". It was a moment that showed why it is Mkhitaryan, rather than Martial, is likelier to be on his way to the Emirates Stadium.

Yet it was the second-half showing, when Romelu Lukaku added a third, that really pleased Mourinho as United earned their third straight victory of the calendar year.

More news: Cue Financial Group Inc. Boosts Stake in Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)

Mourinho could deploy the regular partnership of Nemanja Matić and Paul Pogba as the two holding midfielders of the side. He hit a 60-yard diagonal pass from inside his own half that could not have been better weighted for Jesse Lingard. Stephen Ireland, playing in the Premier League for the first time since May 2016, was particularly bright and nutmegged Pogba at one point. We missed lots of chances because we accelerate the game. It will be a source of frustration to his manager that he has only been able to pick Pogba against a top-six side once: The impressive 3-1 win at Arsenal in December.

United States: You can live stream Manchester United vs Stoke City on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app, which is available on Google Play and iTunes.

Appointed earlier in the day to replace the sacked Mark Hughes, the new manager saw the Potters concede three more league goals to take their tally for the season to 50, more than any other side in Europe's "big five' divisions". They sit second in the league with 47 points from 22 games.

The extension would keep Mourinho tied to the club till 2021, past his current deal which runs to 2019.

What may happen in the transfer window was inescapable at Old Trafford, particularly when the team-sheet came out and there was no Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the United squad.


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