Jose Mourinho has admitted he is ready to sacrifice the game against Arsenal in order to challenge for the Europa League final – but is he telling the truth?
Manchester United are most likely to rest key players against Arsenal this Sunday as Mourinho struggles to keep his players fresh during the fixture congestion at the end of the season.
Before the Celta Vigo clash, Mourinho told the press that he’s prioritising the Europa League as he believes Manchester United have a better chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League by winning that competition.
“Thinking about us as a team, winning this competition would be a good achievement and would allow us to be back in the Champions League,” Mourinho said.
“If we have to rest players next weekend then we are going to do that.”
With Manchester United barely escaping with a point form Manchester derby, and missing out on the opportunity to claim the fourth spot in Premier League, Mourinho has set the Europa League as his main target.
Their 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Thursday night came at a cost with both Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young, himself a second half sub, having to be replaced because of injury.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho confirmed that he would play a weakened side at Arsenal.
“It’s a short result, it could have been better [against Celta],” he said.
“Seeing Celta’s trajectory in the Europa League, they definitely deserve respect for the second leg.
“The players are in accumulation with lots of minutes because we played nine matches in April and now this one, so 10 in four-and-a-half weeks.
“The players in that accumulation are not going to play this weekend [against Arsenal].”
But, Mourinho’s word should of course be taken with a pinch of salt as he’s not known to be a manager that will give up without putting up a fight – especially against Arsene Wenger.
Whatever his words may be, his rivalry with Wenger is one of the main reasons why we should expect him to field the strongest side possible on Sunday.