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Manchester United fans have already been subjected to a roller-coaster of emotions ever since the end of last season. First, they struck gold in the transfer window by securing the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic. Both players made flying starts to their life at Old Trafford. Matic was dubbed as the most influential player for the Red Devils whereas Lukaku notched up 10 goals in his first 9 games for the club. However, Matic is continuing to impress but the Belgian seems to have hit a goal drought, which he broke against Newcastle last night.
His inability to score even in the direst situations has left the fans frustrated and waiting for mighty Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic to make a comeback. Their prayers could be answered soon since the swashbuckling frontman is expected to return in the upcoming weeks. Ibrahimovic’s style and effectivity in front of the net made him a huge success in his debut campaign last year. He made room for himself in the hearts of the United faithful but then he picked up a tragic injury towards the back-end of the season.
After recovering from a serious injury, Ibrahimovic is now back in action and made a substitute appearance against Benitez’s Newcastle last night. It is a well-known fact that Jose Mourinho prefers opting for a system with just one centre-forward and so this brings up a very important question as to who out of the two will get the nod.
As of now, United have been heavily reliant on Lukaku but now that Ibrahimovic is available, things could take a drastic turn for the former Everton striker. The Swedish superstar’s displays on the field often make him seem younger than he really is. He is dependable and knows how to connect the dots to score – two attributes which United are in desperate need of.
Not only have the club’s goals dried up (last night’s game being an exception), United are also lacking when it comes to attacking and Ibrahimovic is known to provide support in orchestrating opportunities as well.
Of course, there is also the option for Mourinho to field both players in a 4-4-2. However, that formation will yield better results only if Henrikh Mkhitaryan plays at his efficient self. Known for his creativity and pace, the Armenian seems like a shadow of his former self as he often goes missing when United need him the most. Perhaps this system would work better with a new signing in January but as of now, there seems to be little evidence to prove otherwise.
Hence, as of now, Mourinho will have to make the choice between the duo. The problem is that Lukaku usually withdraws into a shell if he does not receive adequate time on the field and his drought can only be fixed if he plays more, just as it was in evidence last night. However, with Ibrahimovic’s return to action, things will certainly get tough for Mourinho.
Zlatan played in a deeper role against Newcastle but if that will be the case for the rest of the season remains to be seen as the Swede is a goal scoring beast rather than a creator in chief.