Reading’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday could act as something of a stumbling block for Manchester United.
Buoyed by a seven game winning run, now unbeaten in 13 games, Jose Mourinho’s men could take to the field with a sense of complacency against the Championship side.
But Jaap Stam’s side ought to be taken seriously: the third placed Championship side will head into the game with a dangerous “nothing to lose” mentality.
With that in mind, here are three players that must start against the Royals on Saturday.
How many 35-year-olds could fail to miss one minute of action over ten games? The Swede has demonstrated almost inhuman levels of energy and physical prowess over the past month, netting ten goals in as many games. Those that doubted him back in July have now descended into awkward silence, and he’ll be raring to go against the Championship side.
Reading will undoubtedly opt for an overly defensive approach at Old Trafford, placing emphasis on absorbing pressure and hitting Mourinho’s side on the break. Mkhitaryan’s inclusion, therefore, seems vital: nobody can pick apart tightly packed units like the Armenian, and he could prove to be the vital difference between the two sides on Saturday.
United’s superb record with Carrick in the starting XI continued against West Ham United last Monday: 14 games, 12 wins, no defeats, 35 goals scored. His style at the axis of midfield provides Mourinho’s side with a sense of structure and purpose, giving Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera a platform from which to dominate midfield battles.