Manchester United have considerable defensive worries ahead of Arsenal clash

Manchester United had considerable worries in terms of their defence ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League home clash with Arsenal, with it possible they could have seven back-line options unavailable.

United boss Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling (foot), Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia were not looking ready to play.

Ashley Young (suspension) and Victor Lindelof (muscular injury) are definitely ruled out, and while Matteo Darmian is fit to return, Luke Shaw is a doubt after coming off with a knock in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton.

Smalling, Bailly, Valencia and Darmian were all missing from the matchday squad at St Mary’s, where Mourinho opted to put midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay in defence alongside Jones, who played the full duration. Marcos Rojo was back on the bench after injury but left as an unused substitute.

Mourinho said on Tuesday morning: “Look, against Southampton, three hours before the game, I don’t know the team that is going to play.

“Nobody knew it – the team, and ourselves, we didn’t know yet.

“We were waiting and waiting and waiting to see who could, who couldn’t, and I think we are going to be in a very similar situation this time.

“If you ask me, if the game is now, at 11 o’clock, 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.”

He added: “Valencia is not playing, Shaw is a doubt, Darmian is back. But I have to wait.

“I have to select probably everybody again and I have to take everybody and maybe tomorrow we have to decide like in the last match with a couple of hours before the game.”

Two others taken off in the Southampton match were forwards Romelu Lukaku (knock) and Marcus Rashford, and there is a question mark over the former.

Rashford was backed after the game by Mourinho to be fit for this contest, while Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) remains sidelined.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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