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Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Tactics key to Leicester win

Manchester United secured a vital three points at the King Power Stadium after dismantling champions Leicester City 3-0. A Henrikh Mkhitaryan masterclass was on show as he scored and assisted in United’s win. The Armenian magician started out wide, but Mourinho moved him to a ‘no.10’ role after about 20 minutes and the former Borussia Dortmund man flourished in that role.

The tactical change proved key as Mourinho’s men scored three goals in eight minutes and two quick-fire goals from Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before half time ensured United would be in control for the second half. Mkhitaryan also believes this was key to United’s performance and the official Manchester United website reported:

“I can say we didn’t start the game very well but during the game, when the manager changed the formation and I came to the middle as a 10 and Marcus Rashford started to play as a winger, I think we started to control the ball more and had more chances to score and finally we did.

“After my first goal, I can say that we played very well, we were controlled during the whole game and we were dominating the ball, so that’s why we scored the second and third goals.”

Mkhitaryan’s goal particularly caught the eye, after a scrappy first half. The Armenian latched onto a knockdown from Chris Smalling and slotted home past Kasper Schmeichel:

“The only thing I was thinking was to control that ball and I think I did two in one. I controlled the ball and [went] past Robert Huth, then I had free space in front of me and I said I had to accelerate, to dribble, to go forward and then, when I was in front of the goalkeeper, I saw the far post open so I shot it there. It rebounded a little bit but finally the ball went into the net.”

The Armenian also set up Juan Mata, who’s had a tough time in front of goal recently, as the Spaniard secured all three points in the 49th minute. The link up play between the two and in particular, the directness of Mkhitaryan is something have been missing for a long time. Speaking of Mata’s goal, Mkhitaryan said:

“He’s a world-class player and I knew that if I controlled that ball, he has to open up himself in the space and that’s what happened. I just played it there because I knew that he was going to be there and he scored a nice goal.”

United now sit just a point behind fifth-placed Liverpool and two adrift of Arsenal in fourth, with both teams losing on Saturday to Hull City and Chelsea respectively. It’s becoming apparent that United are still in the hunt for the top four although, they need to keep capitalising on chances to reduce the gap. Liverpool faces a tough test against Spurs next week so there could be more dropped points there. United have to capitalise against Watford.

No doubt questions will be asked about Anthony Martial’s lack of appearance once again, but I trust Jose Mourinho knows what he is doing in that regard. He could possibly come back into the side against Watford, who knows. One thing is for sure when Mkhitaryan is playing like he did against Leicester he has to start.

Another man who keeps delivering is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now on 20 goals this season, he keeps defying the idea that he’s ‘past it’, and an ‘old man’ who can’t cut it in England. He keeps popping up with goals and long may it continue.

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