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Who should start on the wing in the UEFA Europa League Final?

The UEFA Europa League Final is just over a week away and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial are all fighting for two starting spots against Ajax. José Mourinho’s recent pledge to reward the loyalty of players who have played most in the Europa League, like Sergio Romero, means Mkhitaryan has a great chance of playing in Stockholm. But, who should start based on current form and this season’s Europa League stats?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

UEFA Europa League stats

WhoScored rating: 7.34

Apps: 9 (1)

Goals: 5

Assists: 0

The midfield Armenian has been Manchester United’s best performer in the Europa League this season. Despite only starting his first European game for the reds on Matchday Six, Mkhitaryan has gone on to score five times. Four of his goals have come in the knockout stages, scoring crucial away goals against Rostov and Anderlecht, while also netting against the Belgians at Old Trafford. His performance against Anderlecht in the Quarter-Final second leg earned him an impressive 9.26 match rating. Clearly, Mkhitaryan has been a top performer in the crucial stages of the Europa League campaign and deserves to start in the final.

Jesse Lingard

UEFA Europa League stats

WhoScored rating: 6.75

Apps: 6 (3)

Goals: 2

Assists: 1

Jesse Lingard is a player that José Mourinho has used in most of the big games this season due to his energy and tracking back capabilities. The trust Mourinho has in the Englishman means Lingard has a great chance of starting the final. The academy graduate scored against both Fenerbahce and Feyenoord in the group stages. While Lingard also started both semi-final games against Celta Vigo and despite missing chances in the first leg his work ethic helped the team get a positive result.

Juan Mata

UEFA Europa League stats

WhoScored rating: 7.01

Apps: 8 (1)

Goals: 2

Assists: 1

Mata has recently returned from injury and has therefore not played the recent Europa League games. The Spaniard did play a big part in some games however. United’s number 8 scored in the convincing win over Feyenoord, before getting a vital winner against Rostov at Old Trafford to ensure qualification from the last 16 tie. While the Ex-Chelsea man also assisted Mkhitaryan’s goal in France against Saint-Ettiene. Mata’s experience of big games could be vital in Sweden. The Spanish international has played in the Euro 2012 final, plus Champions League and Europa League finals, which he won with Chelsea. The invaluable quality of experience is something that the others do not possess.

Anthony Martial

UEFA Europa League stats

WhoScored rating: 6.94

Apps: 4 (5)

Goals: 1

Assists: 0

Martial has started the least amount of games of any United winger in contention for the final. The Frenchman has made more substitute appearances than starts so far in the Europa League. The former Monaco man did score a penalty against Fenerbahce however and his recent form is much more encouraging after a difficult season. His goal and assist performance at Burnley plus his assist for Wayne Rooney against Tottenham provide fans hope that Martial is returning to his 2015-16 season form at just the right time. United’s number 11 also had two shots from outside the box that curled just wide at White Hart Lane as he bids to win a start in Stockholm.

Overall

While Anthony Martial’s improved performances and Juan Mata’s experience will provide José Mourinho a dilemma; the trust the manager has in Jesse Lingard makes him the most likely winger to start alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the Europa League Final on Wednesday 24th May in Stockholm.

Written by Ben Lyons

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