Jose Mourinho could be without seven senior players for Saturday’s highly-anticipated match against Arsenal.
Already eight points behind leaders Liverpool, the Red Devils can ill-afford to drop many more points if they wish to be in contention in the spring.
However, a raft of injuries will mean a weakened United team at Old Trafford.
Now is hardly the time to be taking on an Arsenal side that hasn’t lost in 16 matches. The Gunners have been breathtaking at times this season and Mesut Ozil is playing on a completely different level.
Even a full-strength United side might have been underdogs against Arsene Wenger’s team. But the injury report only adds to the pessimism.
Mourinho questioned the commitment of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling following the 3-1 win against Swansea earlier this month and the defensive crisis doesn’t end there.
According to the Telegraph, Eric Bailly and Smalling will miss the game and the United boss also has concerns about the availability of Antonio Valencia and Shaw.
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini will both be assessed ahead of the Saturday lunchtime game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended.
Rooney is 60-40
Rooney dropped out of the England squad that will take on Spain this evening after suffering a swollen knee. He’s rated as ’60-40’ to play against Arsenal.
Fellaini picked up a calf injury in the win at Swansea and Valencia, who has missed the past three weeks with a broken arm, isn’t expected to be ready in time.
Shaw and Smalling have both been playing through the pain barrier this season - Shaw due to the leg break he suffered last season, Smalling with a broken toe - and it remains to be seen whether Mourinho will rush them back for Saturday.
United have denied reports claiming the centre-back will be out for four to six weeks but it doesn’t seem wise to rush him back into action.
Mourinho wants a medical review
The alarming increase in injuries has led Mourinho to order a review of United’s medical set-up.
Not only is the 53-year-old concerned about the medical staff, but the willingness of his players to put the team first.
The 3-1 win against Swansea turned sour when he seemingly questioned Shaw and Smalling’s desire to ignore their injury issues.
“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for who a little pain can make a difference,” Mourinho declared, via the Daily Mail.
“If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say many times they played without being 100 per cent. For the team you have to do anything. That is my way of seeing.
“We have players with problems. To compete you have to go to the limit. It is cultural for some - and this is my culture. More than me, it is Man United.”
He also told MUTV: “Smalling doesn't feel that he can play 100 per cent with his pain.
“Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play so we had to build a defensive line.”
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