Manchester United returned to Premier League action with a visit from West Brom but were unable to find a way past a dogged Albion side in a result that will not have helped their chances of a top-four finish.
Mourinho still has little time for Rooney
Despite missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata as well as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Jose Mourinho still didn’t fancy sending Wayne Rooney out against West Brom. The club captain was fit again, as Mourinho confirmed pre-match, but did not get the nod and United’s all-time top scorer had set to settle for a place on the bench alongside Matty Willock. He eventually arrived after 74 minutes and with United toiling but produced very little in his short time on the pitch.
Shaw’s Manchester United career looks over
Manchester United had all sorts of problems in defence with Smalling and Jones ruled out for the “long-term” but that was still not enough to allow Luke Shaw a look-in. Despite being fit and available, the full-back was left out of the squad once again with youngsters Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe Mourinho’s preferred options on the bench. Meanwhile, Ashley Young started at left-back having seemingly become the United manager’s preferred option in that position. Shaw has made just eight Premier League appearances all season and while his continued absence is something of a mystery it’s difficult to see any future for the defender at Old Trafford.
Rashford misses his chance
Through no fault of his own Rashford has struggled for game time in his favoured position this season largely due to the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede’s recent suspension has, however, allowed Rashford the chance to impress as the central striker but the England international has fluffed his lines. He perhaps ought to have scored against Middlesbrough before the international break, denied by a fine save by Victor Valdes, and could not find the back of the net against West Brom. Ben Foster made a decent save from a good effort on 71 minutes, and then a better one late on from a free kick. Rashford now has no goals in his last 18 Premier League games, a run stretching back to September and expect Ibrahimovic to go straight back into the side against Everton on Tuesday.
Mata missed as Lingard stakes his claim
News that Juan Mata could miss the rest of the season after undergoing groin surgery filtered through on Friday night and left United many fans praying it was an early April Fool. Unfortunately not for the Red Devils, with Mata’s intelligence and ability to carve teams open missed as United failed to break down a well-organised West Brom side. Jesse Lingard, who may now be set for a prolonged spell in the side due to Mata’s absence, was arguably United’s best player against West Brom and easily outshone Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. However, make no mistake Mata’s injury is a huge blow for United.
Bailly & Rojo ease defensive concerns
It’s unknown quite how long Jones and Smalling will be out for, although their absences in truth may not have concerned United too fans much given their inconsistent form. Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo came in for the duo in central defence and put in a strong show against a West Brom side that, admittedly, threatened only sporadically. The duo may face a far stronger test against Everton on Tuesday but this was a performance that will have eased defensive fears.
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