Manchester United shift their focus on Sunday’s highly-anticipated clash against Chelsea at Old Trafford after a disappointing 0-0 draw at Sevilla in the first leg of Champions League round of 16.
Jose Mourinho’s side were extremely lucky to fly back home from Spain without conceding a single goal as goalkeeper David De Gea starred between the sticks on Wednesday. But for now though, Mourinho and his team’s sole focus will be on Chelsea, who enjoyed a comparatively good Champions League night against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, drawing 1-1.
Team and Injury News
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to training this week as he bids to overcome issues after his ACL surgery and attain full fitness.
Daley Blind missed the trip to Sevilla due to a muscle injury he suffered in training in January. Also, defenders, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are sidelined with knocks and won’t be available for the game against Chelsea.
Ander Herrera picked up an injury in the early stages of the first-half against Sevilla and Mourinho confirmed that the Spaniard will be out for “few weeks”.
“Ander is out. I don’t know the final diagnosis but I know he’ll be out for a few weeks. I don’t know how many is a few – two, three, four, five, six weeks – I don’t know, but a few weeks, for sure. Coming back from injury – nobody else.”
Paul Pogba has seen a dip in form lately and was named on the bench against Sevilla. The Frenchman, however, took the pitch after just 14 minutes, replacing the injured Herrera.
And Mourinho praised the midfielder’s professionalism in his press conference.
“You saw the game against Sevilla – I think it’s always more difficult to come from the bench than to start,” our gaffer added.
“A player when he’s starting the game has a different kind of preparation for it and it’s easier to be on the bench and to come on even without warming up, in minute 15, or minute 20, and to get into the pace of the game is not easy.
“I think he responded in a very professional way, both times he was on the bench. He was on the bench against Huddersfield in the Premier League and he responded in a professional way. He was on the bench in Seville and he did the same.
“I think he had a very positive game for us and sometimes, details are details, but sometimes players on the bench take five minutes to be ready to play. They don’t have shinpads, they don’t have the strapping, they don’t have a shirt. He took 10 seconds to be ready to come to the pitch, which showed the professionalism that he was ready to play and help the team, which he did.”
Our gaffer added he is ‘not worried’ about Romelu Lukaku’s poor record against the ‘big six’ sides. Lukaku has often been criticised for his failure to score against bigger opposition and Mourinho says he is happy with the Belgian’s performance.
“21 goals is not bad at all and I don’t analyse the players’ performances the same way you [journalists] do. I have other points of analysis and I’m happy with Romelu’s performances, even when he doesn’t score goals,” Jose claimed.
On youngster Scott McTominoy’s rise this season, the Portuguese explained:
“The trust and confidence I show towards Scott – he’s earned it step by step since he came to the first-team training sessions. I know what he’s good at, I know where he can improve and I think he’s going to be a really good player.”
Mourinho and Conte have been embroiled in a personal feud for much of this season and when the United manager was asked about his opposite number on Sunday, he said:
“I don’t want to speak about it, I’m not going to speak about it. That’s not the point – very good manager, fantastic team and that’s what is important for me.”
I just can’t wait for Sunday as United and Chelsea battle it out for three crucial points at Old Trafford.