Manchester United enjoyed a 4-1 victory over West Ham United last night, booking their place in the last four of the EFL Cup. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at the heart of it all, assisting two goals and putting in a marvellous performance. The Armenian midfielder reminded fans and Jose Mourinho, why he was voted the Bundesliga player of the season last season.
Mkhitaryan was voted man-of-the-match last night as he dazzled the Old Trafford faithful, and Jose Mourinho will no doubt be thinking that the midfielder could become a key player under his reign.
Former Manchester United man Phil Neville believes the Armenians performances against West Ham last night and Feyenoord last week, entitle him to be starting more games in the top flight. Neville told Sky Sports;
“He has to start. The words that Jose Mourinho used after the match were his way of saying he actually trusts him a little bit more now.
“He was fantastic, and what impresses me most is that he doesn’t take more than one or two touches.
“He’s infectious around [Wayne] Rooney, [Anthony] Martial, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, and he brings people into the game. I just think he has to start starting in Premier League games.
“The front four were sensational. Henrikh Mkhitaryan got man of the match, but it could have been any of the front four. It was a brilliant attacking performance.
“I think the performances are no different from the cup and the league, the difference is that in the cup competitions they’re finishing teams off, look ruthless in front of goal, and look happier.
“I don’t think United are too far away. I think they’ve drawn games they should have won, and if they’d won those games they’d be in the top four.
“I actually think United are going in the right direction, it’s a better brand of football we’re watching now than what we saw under Louis van Gaal, so I think United fans will be happy.
“They’ve got to start scoring goals in the Premier League. If they do, they’ll finish in the top four.”
I agree with Neville in the sense that United have drawn games that they should have won. It felt like this performance was coming, and the difference between last night and the previous weeks where United have endured frustrating draws was that, United were clinical and took their chances.
As Neville mentioned, that front four were almost telepathic at times and looked so fluid like they’d been playing together for years. I’m sure most fans, myself included, envisioned this style of performance when Mourinho signed the liked of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan looked smooth and silky last night and played like he was a step ahead everyone else. It seems as though he’s bringing some creativity that United have been lacking in recent weeks.
More than anything now, United need to take this performance into Sunday’s game against Everton. Jose needs to stick with a similar team too. No doubt Paul Pogba will start after serving his suspension last night, and Wayne Rooney picked up a booking meaning he’s suspended against his old club and won’t get the chance to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at his old stomping ground. Nevertheless, United need the three points to maintain any hopes of getting into this top four spots at the end of the season.