Does Zlatan Ibrahimovic need to be benched?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is considered to still be in his prime even at 35-years-old, but the Swede has failed to score in six matches. In the match at Old Trafford against Burnley, the Manchester United striker held the ball up well and did much better with his link-up play than he has in past matches, but he failed to beat Tom Heaton, who had a career-making performance inside the goal frame. Ibrahimovic’s best chance came from a scissor kick volley from a few yards out that Heaton reacted to in order to keep the clean sheet.

Ibrahimovic was unlucky against Burnley, and so was the entire United side. From Herrera getting a second yellow after slipping to Juan Mata and Ibrahimovic both hitting the woodwork, United had one of those days. However, for Ibrahimovic, it was a sixth “one of those days” in a row. With his poor form, does Jose Mourinho bench the struggling striker?

There are plenty of options for Mourinho to change the lineup if Ibrahimovic starts on the bench. With Anthony Martial currently injured, Marcus Rashford might be the right person to start in the No. 9 role that Ibrahimovic has played this season. With Rashford off the wing, that could put Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the lineup on the outside but Mourinho would probably put Mata out on the right and Jesse Lingard on the left, which could mean a return to the starting XI for captain Wayne Rooney, who was used as a substitute for United against Burnley.

Ibrahimovic is doing poorly in front of goal but he is doing well combining in the centre of the field. At the start of his United career, he struggled to get into the tempo of Premier League football but he scored on a somewhat frequent basis. Now, he has not scored since United’s Europa League match against Zorya Luhansk. This goal drought is the worst run of his career with the striker attempting 35 shots in 540 minutes and failing to find the back of the net.

United showed dominance in the 0-0 draw with Burnley with 37 shots (11 on goal), 19 corner kicks, and 72 percent possession. The most important statistic, which United lacked, was goals. Goals were a problem with Louis van Gaal in his first season at Old Trafford. The Dutch manager had Radamel Falcao, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Robin van Persie and Rooney at his dispense. Van Gaal sold Van Persie, Chicharito and Danny Welbeck, who Van Gaal did not trust to start for the Red Devils. Falcao never found form and ended up at Mourinho’s Chelsea, where the Colombian’s struggles continued. United had an abundance of players capable of playing the No. 9 role, but none succeeded.

In Van Gaal’s second season, Martial proved to be a successful signing and 18-year-old Rashford lit up the scene. Van Gaal figured it out with youth but now Mourinho has Ibrahimovic, a proven No. 9 striker. Now that he cannot find form, the Portuguese manager may have to utilize the Swede as a substitute in order to give United a potency up top that could be found through Rashford once again. Rashford is playing well and had a decent match against Burnley but was substituted when Memphis Depay was called upon to try and salvage the three points. Ibrahimovic might be best used as a super sub so to speak. Right now, Mourinho has to make the change and sit Ibrahimovic and start Rashford as the No. 9. United have a Europa League fixture on Thursday against Fenerbahce in Turkey, which should see Ibrahimovic start on the bench. He is certainly capable of scoring, which he has done already this season, but it does not look like he can do it consistently, which United desperately need.

Written by Shawn Medow


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