Manchester United vs Sunderland: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

David Moyes will return to Old Trafford for the first time on Boxing Day since he was dismissed by the club in April 2014 after a miserable ten month spell as manager.

Jose Mourinho will know that Manchester United’s game with a struggling Sunderland side (they have only picked up four points in nine away games so far this season) serves as a superb opportunity to build on their newfound momentum going into the new year.

With that in mind, here are three players Mourinho must start on Boxing Day.

Eric Bailly  

The Ivorian was forced off after 51 minutes on his Premier League return against Crystal Palace, clearly struggling with the knee problem that kept him out for almost two months. He has confirmed that, despite what looked like a bad problem at the time, he will be raring to go against Sunderland.

His presence on the pitch provides Man United’s back four with a sense of raw aggression and militancy, and Mourinho will be keen to give Marcos Rojo a rest after the Argentine’s recent exertions.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan 

Mkhitaryan’s return to the starting XI after two games on the sidelines would serve as an ideal present for United fans – way better than those gift vouchers your auntie gave you.

The Armenian, ever since making his return against Fenerbahce, has been United’s biggest creative influence, single handedly deciding games against Zorya Luhansk and Tottenham Hostpur with his mesmerising array of skills. His inclusion on Boxing Day would spell trouble for an unreliable Sunderland back four.

Zlatan Ibrahimoivc

Many questioned Ibrahimovic’s ability to feature on a regular basis under Mourinho, pointing towards the potential problems that would arise with deploying the 35-year-old on a game-by-game basis in such a physically imposing environment.

The Swede has answered those questions in characteristically emphatic fashion. He has started in 24 of United’s 27 games this season, clocking up 16 goals in the process. And with a sumptuous record of ten goals in his last nine appearances, Mourinho will know that Zlatan in this kind of form is simply undroppable.

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