Injury boost : Manchester United star to make a surprise return against Arsenal

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will be happy to know that his ace defender Antonio Valencia can be back much sooner than it was anticipated before.

According to reports from the Mirror, Valencia has made a quick recovery and if things go well, he will certainly feature in the starting lineup against Arsenal. The two heavyweight Premier League sides are going to lock horns against each other on Saturday, in the first game of gameweek 12, and should Valencia manages to come around by that time, it will be a huge boost for his side.

The Ecuadorian has been a revelation this season. Mourinho has handed him a starting berth in all Premier League games before he got injured and he returned the favour by and large.

Along with handling the defensive responsibilities efficiently, he also made effective runs down the flank and floated in exquisite crosses for fellow strikers. With Valencia present on the pitch, the right side of the Manchester United attack always looked threatening and it would come handy once again, if the player can recover before the Arsenal game.

In Valencia’s absence, the United boss had to rely on Matteo Darmian, but the Italian was not at par. And then, Luke Shaw got injured and Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo’s performances were not up to the mark. As a consequence, in the last Premier League outing against Swansea City, Mourinho put Ashley Young in the right back position while Darmian started on the other side. However, if Valencia is back, he would definitely replace an out of sort Young.

Truth be told, none of the other Manchester United side backs this season could perform like Valencia, and that is precisely why this recovery is so important for the side reeling at sixth spot in the league table.

Here is a comparison of Antonio Valencia’s stats with that of other players who took the side roles in the Manchester United backline. All stats, except for the minutes played, are given on an average per game (collected from WhoScored.com).

Player Mins played Tackles Clearances Interceptions Passing accuracy Key passes
Antonio Valencia  782 2.9 2.4 2.1 87.3%  1.1
Matteo Darmian  579 2.4 1.9 1.6 73%  0.6
Luke Shaw  707 1.7 2.6 1.6 86.7%  0.6
Ashley Young  278 1.7 1.7 1.2 83.1%  0.7

 

As you can see above, the 31 year old right back has been better than the other options in almost every aspect, and naturally it can be said beyond doubt that he would bring stability to the Manchester United side if he is available for the Arsenal game.

On the other hand, the boss is currently having a row with Shaw and Chris Smalling over their fitness issues while new signing Eric Bailly is also out injured. With these upheavals at his helm, Mourinho would be much relieved ahead of the big game if the reliable defender is back. It is no brainer that if the Red Devils manage to snatch a victory against an inspired Gunners, they will move closer to the top four, and that will surely uplift the team’s morale before a busy end to the calendar year.

 

Do you think Valencia’s return is important for Manchester United? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by sdhansay

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