Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has claimed that he will be make a number of changes for the upcoming encounter with Arsenal, but that does not mean he will be setting his team up to lose.
There has been plenty of talk about the Red Devils boss making wholesale changes as he looks to prioritise the Europa League competition this week, and he has insisted on three separate occasions now that he will be rotating his players for Sunday’s encounter.
In his pre-match conference, he now insists he will be setting his team up to fight our side, but describes his task as impossible.
The following extract is taken from the official United website:
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits he will need to rest players at Arsenal on Sunday as he believes the draw with Swansea City last weekend has probably cost the Reds the chance to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
With the Europa League semi-final second leg, against Celta Vigo, on the horizon after a 1-0 win in Spain on Thursday, the boss feels the continental competition offers the best avenue to Champions League football next season.
Domestically, United are only a point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with an inferior goal difference, but have trips to Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton still to come within the next 12 days ahead of a final-day clash with Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. City have a run of three home matches, against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Brom, before ending the season at Watford.
Liverpool are four points clear of United with only three matches to come – at home to Southampton and Middlesbrough and away to West Ham – and, while refusing to throw in the towel, Mourinho has been forced to accept he will need to shuffle his pack in the run-in.
“We are going to try,” he said of Sunday’s encounter at the Emirates Stadium. “We are not going to Arsenal to say ‘beat us 5-0 or 6-0’. We are going there to fight for a result but it’s impossible. I cannot do it another way.
“If Celta [Vigo] were playing with their best team and, if Celta were fighting for important things in La Liga, we would go [into the second leg] in the same circumstances but I cannot now play the same team that played here [at Estadio Balaidos] and then we play again next Thursday.
“So, we have to be human with the players and sensible and show common sense in relation to our situation in the Premier League. I think, in the last match against Swansea, we lost our last chance to fight for the top four so I’m going to rest players.”
Celta have been playing a shadow side in La Liga while focusing on their Europa League campaign and remain a threat to United’s hopes of reaching the final in Stockholm, despite their one-goal defeat in Galicia.
Arsenal certainly appear to be getting a favourable advantage by United’s inclusion in the Europa League, but we will have to wait and see if we can get the needed result from the tie.
Can Arsenal use this tie to build confidence for the all-important run-in?