MANCHESTER UNITED face an injury crisis ahead of their game with Arsenal on Wednesday, with their defensive options lacking.
Manchester United fielded a makeshift back three in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton, with midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay drafted in alongside Phil Jones – playing his first league game since August.
This was after Eric Bailly (back) and Chris Smalling (foot) suffered injuries to exacerbate United’s defensive crisis.
Bailly and Smalling though, who travelled to Southampton, assembled with the provisional squad for the Arsenal game on Tuesday night.
Ashley Young is unavailable for selection on Wednesday due to suspension, while Victor Lindelof (thigh) is out for at least two more weeks.
“Against Southampton, three hours before the game, I didn’t know the team I was going to play”
Luke Shaw limped off in the Southampton draw while Jones also suffered an injury at St Mary’s and manager Jose Mourinho suggested he was also a doubt for Arsenal’s visit.
Matteo Darmian has regained fitness, Antonio Valencia is also in contention for a recall after missing the last two games with a muscle pull, while Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo could also be selected.
Dalot, 19, made his league debut at the weekend and Rojo is the only member of United’s 26-man first-team squad who has not figured all season.
“Look, against Southampton, three hours before the game, I didn’t know the team I was going to play,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference.
“So nobody knew the team and ourselves we didn’t know yet.
“We were waiting to see who could and couldn’t and I think we are going to be in a similar situation this time.
“If you asked me if the game is now at 11 o’clock [on Tuesday morning], I would say Smalling is not playing, Bailly is not playing, Jones is not playing. Of course, Lindelof is out of the question. But we have to wait.
“Valencia is not playing, Shaw is a doubt, Darmian is back but I have to wait and select everybody again and take everybody and maybe tomorrow we decide like the last match a couple of hours before the game.”
Marcus Rashford was another who sustained a knock against Southampton, with Mourinho revealing after the game that the forward was asking to come off.
Mourinho, however, was confident Rashford would recover in time for Arsenal despite suffering an injury which, according to the United manager, would leave some players out of action for “two weeks”.
For Arsenal, Mesut Ozil is likely to be missing again after he was not included in the squad for the win against Tottenham on Sunday.
The German did not train with the first team on Monday and has been ruled out of the last two matches with a back problem.
The Gunners go into the game on the back of a 19 game unbeaten run and may fancy their chances at Old Trafford.
Emery’s men sit eight points ahead of the Red Devils after 14 games.