STRONG SIDE ON MONDAY
Antonio Conte and his Chelsea side can expect a strong Manchester United side on Monday. This comes after claims that Mourinho would rest him stars after playing a tie in Russia just 3 days earlier. The boss also took aim a Man City in his post-match comments yesterday. “I know we have to beat Rostov at Old Trafford to reach the quarter-finals but we cannot go with a Nicky Butt team because last season Manchester United was the winner of the competition.” Last season’s FA Cup saw Manchester City play a second string side as they looked to rest their big stars for a Champions League fixture. City crashed out with a 5-1 defeat.
Jose Mourinho is set to hand Luke Shaw an extended run in the first-team as the business end of the season approaches. Mourinho wants to convince Shaw that his long-term future lies in Manchester after being dropped recently. He made his return in last week’s home draw against Bournemouth and put in a solid shift before being replaced by Jesse Lingard as United pushed for a winner.
Marouane Fellaini put in a superb effort against Rostov in the Europa League last night. He was excellent as the go to man up top along with Ibrahimovic as United opted for long balls. His chest control and pass for Ibrahimovic lead to Mkhitaryan’s vital away goal. Fellaini has hit a purple patch in recent weeks as he looks to offer United something different when looking for that winner or equalizer late in the match.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan marked his return from a two-week injury layoff with a vital away goal against Rostov in the Olimp-2 Stadium. Speaking after the game, Henrikh expressed his natural joy on scoring. “We tried to win and we weren’t very focused at the beginning but in the second half we played as good as we could on this pitch,” he said. “It was not a very interesting game but we tried to do everything we could. “Its football and the equalizer will be considered, it’s a mistake but the second game will be more important. The first half was more quiet and there was nothing special, I’m happy to score but we conceded. I’m feeling better there is no injury and I’ll be getting ready for the next game”.
Rumors suggesting that United have held secret talks for the transfer of Napoli man Dries Mertens have emerged. Italian daily Il Matino claim that United had a two-hour meeting in a hotel over a potential summer switch. The Belgian has hit the back of the net 23 times in a central role after Higuain’s departure. The 29 year old is out of contract in 2018.
Rostov fans made classy gesture ahead of yesterday’s Europa League match. The few hundred travelling Red fans were handed blankets to keep warm in the cold Russian night. They blankets were emblazoned with the words ‘Gentlefan, Russian Warm Welcome’ along the date, location and fixture. The gesture came after United fans were warned about hooliganism ahead of their travels.