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EPL 2016/17: Jose Mourinho says he left Wayne Rooney out of the starting XI because he's too slow

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The Portuguese manager let the drinking incident earlier in the week slide.

Jose Mourinho's insistence on leaving Wayne Rooney on the bench was for a genuine reason

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he chose to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench against Arsenal because he didn’t offer much to the game in terms of pace. 

Rooney was photographed this week drinking heavily the night before a crucial training session with the national team. And with pundits and critics slamming the 31-year-old for the same, it looked a lot like Mourinho was following suit by leaving him out of the starting eleven against Arsenal – arguably one of their biggest fixtures of the season. 

But the Portuguese manager insists he left out the Englishman simply because he thought Arsenal were going to let them play with the ball and that they needed pace to counter the same. 

“I thought we were going to have the ball,” said Mourinho. “Arsenal are a team who let the opponents play.

“I thought we would have space and the ball would arrive quite easily to the attacking players.

I believed ones like Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were faster than Wayne — better-attacking opponents one-to-one in the last line. I thought it was the best option.”

Having led for the most part of the second half, Jose Mourinho’s side failed to close the game with all three points. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud rose above everyone to head home an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross in the 89th minute of the game leaving the former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager frustrated again. 

But he isn’t blaming the team for their performance insisting that they performed well saving special praise for the midfield and defence. 

“The midfield is playing very well,” said Mourinho. “Pogba, Carrick and Herrera are playing very well. The defenders, the way Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo performed, were so solid and confident. We defended high and were compact when we had to be.

Also read: Will Jose Mourinho ever cease his obsession with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal?

“It was a very good performance, but I go home with the feeling that I lost against Arsenal in the Premier League.” 

Mourinho’s long-standing rivalry against Arsene Wenger continued in this game with the two of them shaking hands for customary reasons only. The Frenchman entered the stadium after the Portuguese man, shook his hand and headed straight for the dugout. 

The two of them had insisted before the game that they were going to respect the unwritten rule of a handshake before and after the game and they did so. But this is the first time Arsenal have scored against a Jose Mourinho side in the Premier League in nine years, hence the ‘I go home with the feeling that I lost against Arsenal in the Premier League.’

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