Midfield duo omitted in Mourinho 4-2-3-1: Manchester United best possible XI to face Palace
COMMENT By Will Butcher
Wayne Rooney should be handed a starting berth for Man United against Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening as Jose Mourinho omits two midfielders.
The 31-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular place in Mourinho’s starting XI this season, remaining as an unused substitute against Tottenham on Saturday.
But with Ander Herrera playing 97 minutes before being substituted in the dying seconds for Marouane Fellaini, Rooney should start to allow the Spaniard time to rest.
That would mean Paul Pogba would drop in to the midfield to sit alongside Michael Carrick, while a second midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be unavailable due to an ankle injury.
Playmaker Juan Mata should be given a chance back in the United side to replace Mkhitaryan, who is set to miss Wednesday’s night’s Premier League encounter.
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With Alan Pardew’s Eagles possessing plenty of pace, United need to focus on the creative side of their game rather than trying to beat a man and reach the byline.
The inclusion of both Rooney and Mata gives United a much more creative outlook, as they look to compound Palace’s woeful recent form that has seen them win once in their last nine games.
Summer signing Mkhitaryan is set to return on Boxing Day, after a strong challenge from Danny Rose left him feeling the effects during Sunday’s 1-0 win against Tottenham.
The defence stays the same from the win against Tottenham, as they stood firm to earn United’s fifth Premier League clean sheet of the season.
Luke Shaw remains sidelined with an injury picked up against West Ham, so Matteo Darmian deputises alongside Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia.
Pogba partners Michael Carrick as Ander Herrera is rested, while Anthony Martial will keep Marcus Rashford out of the side.
Zlatan Ibrahmovic has wowed fans since his move to Old Trafford, and will be looking to increase his tally which stands at 13 goals in 23 games.
A win against Palace could see United close the gap even further between themselves and fifth places Spurs, if Mauricio Pochettino’s side drop points against Hull.