Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Saturday was notable, among many other things, for the continued absence of one Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Despite playing the full 90 minutes for Armenia the weekend previously, and with no known fitness concerns, the 27-year-old winger wasn’t even named on the bench for the Old Trafford stalemate.
Mkhitaryan has not played in the Premier League in over two months, being hauled off at half time against Manchester City in his only start was his last involvement, and has played a total of just 104 league minutes since signing from Borussia Dortmund in a £27m deal in the summer.
Man United manager José Mourinho has attempted to shed some light on the situation, arguing that Mkhitaryan was not ready to be thrown in against Arsenal due to the intense pressure of the game.
In quotes picked up by several media sources, Mourinho insisted that he needs an easier match to play in to ease him into regular first team action, saying:
“I told him Arsenal was not the game for you.
“I don’t think he needs 10 or 20 minutes from the bench. He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.
“I think he needs a good game and he needs to either start or, if not, to come on for the second half.”
Mourinho did confirm, however, that the player would have some involvement in Thursday night’s must-win Europa League tie against Feyenoord at Old Trafford:
“I told him that he is going to be involved in the [Feyenoord] game,
“He is trying. He is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is to close the mouth and work hard and try to adapt.”
Man United know that only three points will do against the Eredivisie side. Another defeat could see them suffer an early exit from the competition.