EPL 2016/17: Jose Mourinho says Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo can ease Manchester United's defensive crisis
United had to play with a makeshift defence against Burnley as Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly are sidelined.
Injuries have taken their toll on Manchester United as Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia were all sidelined for The Red Devils’ game against Burnley. Bailly, who arrived from Villarreal for £30m in the summer, has made an impressive start to his United career. The Ivorian was unfortunate to suffer a knee ligament injury during United’s 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
United fielded a back four of Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw against Burnley, even though the Red Devils kept a clean sheet, Mourinho highlighted his injury concerns.
“The problem for us is having injuries all in the same area with Bailly, Smalling and Valencia,” said Mourinho. “They were the three players that start almost every match in the Premier League and now we have lost all three in the same period.
“But that's football and it's an opportunity for others to play. We trust Darmian and we trust Marcos Rojo to have a positive influence.”
Smalling, who had a dismal game against Chelsea, couldn’t make it into the United team who faced Burnley due to a muscle problem. The England international had also missed United’s 1-0 win over rivals, Manchester City in the EFL Cup.
Antonio Valencia had fractured his arm during the cup tie against Manchester City and is expected to be out for six weeks. The 31-year-old, who was playing ever so well, will also miss Ecuador’s World Cup qualifier matches against Uruguay and Venezuela. Phil Jones is back in full training after his long-term injury lay-off but is still not available for selection.
Mourinho sent to the stands
Jose Mourinho, who was sent off to the stands during United’s stalemate against Burnley, endured another afternoon of frustration. Despite having 37 shots on goal and 19 corners, United couldn’t find a way through the Clarets defence.
Burnley’s goalkeeper Tom Heaton, an FA Youth Cup winner with Manchester United, was in impeccable form as he pulled off some incredible saves. The away fans at Old Trafford were awed by his performance and they chanted, “England’s number one”.
The game would have finished differently if United had been more clinical in front of goal as they wasted some clear cut chances. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored just once in his last 10 games, missed two glorious chances. The 35-year-old is currently on his worst run of form since 2007 when he was with Inter Milan. Wayne Rooney, who was introduced as a substitute, could have won the game for United but his shot flew over the crossbar.
United now find themselves 8 points behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool who all won over the weekend.