By Will Butcher
Jose Mourinho should give Henrikh Mkhitaryan just his second start for Manchester United against West Ham on Wednesday night.
The 27-year-old oucast has only started once for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, as he struggles to hold down a regular place in the United side following his summer move from Borussia Dortmund.
However, after his impressive display against Feyenoord in the Europa League, here are three reasons why Mourinho should give Mkhitaryan a start against the Hammers in Wednesday night’s EFL Cup quarter finals:
Pace against a three-man defence
The Armenia international possesses bags of pace and could find plenty of space in behind a West Ham system that is likely to feature wing-backs.
With the Hammers’ wide men out of position further up the flanks, Mkhitaryan could prove the difference as he looks to get in behind West Ham’s defence.
His ability to get to the byline and find a teammate is one of the main reasons that United paid a huge sum of £26million in the summer, and that could be on show at Old Trafford if he starts against West Ham.
Ability to unlock the defence
Sunday’s 1-1 draw proved that it is likely to take a moment of magic to make the difference during the cup tie, and Mkhitaryan’s ability to unlock a defence could provide that spark.
The United number 22 proved that against Dutch giants Feyenoord, being involved in most of United’s attacking play before looking sharp during his substitute appearance on Sunday against the Hammers.
Mkhitaryan’s impressive vision was another main reason United decided to break the bank to sign him this summer, after providing 32 assists for Dortmund last season.
Juan Mata needs a rest
The Spaniard has featured in 18 of United’s 21 league and cup encounters this season, as well as featuring for his country against England.
The 28-year-old has starred in Mourinho’s attack this season, scoring five goals and providing two assists in what has been a disappointing start to the season by United but is in need of a rest as he becomes an integral part of the United side.
Mkhitaryan is the perfect replacement for Mata, as he offers as much in a playmaker role as he does out wide.
In other Manchester United news, this is why Mourinho is doing worse than David Moyes.