José Mourinho Reveals Key Absentees For West Brom Game, But Smalling Might Return

Chris Smalling

José Mourinho has confirmed that defender Chris Smalling is back for the game against West Brom today, but this game will come a little too soon for Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Smalling has been out of action since the 4-0 loss against Chelsea. Even though Mourinho has chosen to publicly criticise the England international, there is no doubt that he is a vital member of the team. The recent form of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo does make it difficult for Smalling to get back into the starting lineup straightaway, and he may have to settle for a place on the bench against West Brom.

The Portuguese manager also says that defender Eric Bailly is struggling with a knock and may not be available for the game. Bailly returned to the starting line-up in the Europa League, but he has been made to wait for a Premier League starting spot. Mourinho said:

“Bailly can’t play tomorrow but his injury isn’t as serious as we thought. Smalling is coming back for this game.”

West Brom have won the last three home matches scoring 10 goals in the process and conceding only two. However, the last time they came up against a big team (Manchester City) at the Hawthorns, it ended up as a 4-0 thrashing for the home team. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba are in excellent form coming into the game, but Mourinho would have really liked if Henrikh Mkhitaryan would have returned. The Armenian International has finally shown the kind of quality that he possesses in the recent Europa League and Premier league games.

After being stretchered off in the 1-0 win over Spurs, it was apparent that the injury was going to be serious and the player would be out for a couple of weeks. As a result, he has missed out on the away trip to West Brom.

Ibrahimovic and Pogba were the scorers in the last game against Crystal Palace, but United required the last gasp goal from the big Swede in order to see them through. The Red Devils are aiming for a third consecutive league victory for only the second time this season. After having been unbeaten in the last three away matches, United will feel reasonably confident going into the game at Hawthorns. One troublesome statistic for the club is their inability to keep a clean sheet on the road. United’s last away clean sheet came on October 18 in the goalless draw against Liverpool, a game in which United faced intense criticism for their lack of ambition.

United are unbeaten in their last seven league matches coming into the game while this runs stretches to 9 games if all competitions are taken into account.