Manchester United returned to winning ways with a convincing come from behind 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The game saw Paul Pogba return to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in mid-September, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic introduced from the substitutes bench after suffering a serious knee injury at the end of April.
Marcos Rojo suffered a long-term injury in the same game as Ibrahimovic; United’s Europa League quarter-final second leg victory over Anderlecht. The Argentine was also named on the bench yesterday.
However, there were a couple of surprise absentees from Jose Mourinho’s matchday squad – neither Eric Bailly or Henrikh Mkhitaryan were included.
Bailly has been a regular and a rock at the centre of United’s defence when available this season, whilst Mkhitaryan has often been the number 10. Yesterday Juan Mata started in that role before Mourinho switched his formation around during the game.
Mourinho has since been quoted in the Manchester Evening News as saying the reason to drop the Armenian playmaker was a tactical decision. Mkhitaryan played in both of Armenia’s friendlies over the international break, scoring in each of them – against Belarus and Cyprus.
However, Eric Bailly’s absence was due to another injury picked up whilst on international duty. This despite being suspended for the Ivory Coast’s World Cup qualifier against Morocco.
This left Mourinho without his first choice centre-back pairing as Phil Jones was also injured whilst away with England. With Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof starting, United fans could have feared the worst, especially after Dwight Gayle put the visitors in front inside quarter-of-an-hour.
Manchester United would go on to take control of the game, with goals from Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling giving them a 2-1 half-time lead before Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku struck in the second half to make the scoreline resounding.
There is no news as to what injury Bailly has suffered nor how long he is expected to be out for.
United face FC Basel in the Champions League in Switzerland on Wednesday night before returning to Premier League action to take on Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday.