Manchester United take on Hull City at Old Trafford tonight in hope to gain crucial points on their top 4 rivals due to Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool all dropping at least 2 points. Tonight will see United play Hull for the fourth time this season after defeating them over two legs in the EFL Cup semi-final. 3 points tonight and United can close the gap behind Tottenham in 2nd place to a narrow 3 points. Jose has piled the pressure on his players saying, “Only 3 points is good for us, if we don’t win, it’s really bad.”
Jose Mourinho confirmed yesterday that he intends to play his strongest team, as he does in every match when possible. Valencia, Ibrahimovic and Pogba have all been confirmed as starters by Jose, as they didn’t play the weekend match versus Wigan because “they had played a lot of games.” Mkhitaryan is also expected to start after being awarded Man of the Match against Wigan where he scored 1 goal in a 4-0 victory. Martial has been named on the bench despite providing 2 assists at the weekend and being involved in 9 goals in his past 8 games. When asked if Martial did enough to start the game against Hull, Jose responded “Enough to be on the bench.” Eric Bailly returned to the squad last Wednesday as his Ivory Coast side were knocked out of the African Cup of Nations. Eric featured for Manchester United reserves on Monday in which he completed 60 minutes in an attempt to bring him back to full fitness.
As we already know, Valencia, Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan are confirmed starters and Martial is on the bench. This paves the way for Juan Mata to feature against Hull City in what would be his 11th start in the Premier League this season, scoring 4 goals. Mourinho has been testing his centre back partnership over the past few weeks with Smalling, Jones and Rojo all fighting for 2 positions. Marcos Rojo has been the most consistent starter as of late in what has been an excellent season for the Argentine. Eric Bailly picked up a knock on Monday and was taken off as a precaution but he is believed to be fit for the game tonight and it’s likely Mourinho will throw him in next to Rojo in the centre of defence. Luke Shaw featured for the first time in two months against Wigan but it is unlikely that he will start tonight as Darmian is expected to continue at left-back.
Manchester United 2-0 Hull City. In recent weeks when teams above United have dropped points, they seem to follow suit and remain in the same position, but tonight is a great opportunity to really close the gap on the teams above and I can’t see Hull causing much trouble away at Old Trafford.