Manchester United succumbed to their fourth successive Premier League draw at home against West Ham United last Sunday, widening the gap between Jose Mourinho’s men and top spot to 11 points.
Their league record at Old Trafford for this season makes for some truly grim reading: just two wins in seven, with 91 shots in their last four games yielding a meek return of just three goals.
Wednesday’s EFL Cup game with West Ham, therefore, serves as an ideal opportunity for Mourinho’s men to attain some much-needed respite.
With that in mind, here are three players that the 53-year-old must start against Slaven Bilic’s side this time around.
The Armenian received his first starting opportunity since September 10 last week, occupying the No.10 against Feyenoord. His performance – hallmarked supreme levels control, poise, composure and creative design – simply dazzled the watching world.
Mkhitaryan’s long-awaited presence gave Mourinho’s men a platform to launch wave after wave of attack, and Feyenoord simply couldn’t cope. One feels as if the game against West Ham serves as the ideal time for the 27-year-old to assert himself once again.
Man United, with Michael Carrick sidelined with a minor injury, notably lacked their usual sense of flow and composure in the second half against West Ham. The Dutchman, also renowned for his excellent poise on the ball, was also absent from the starting XI, and it was manifested in a disjointed, skittish second half onslaught.
His presence at the back on Wednesday, therefore, feels like a step in the right direction as United prepare to take on the East London side for the second time in three days.
The Spaniard, alongside Paul Pogba, dominated the midfield battle last weekend, flying across the pitch with a series of intelligent passes and vital interceptions. His presence as a tenacious driving force has become a necessary component of this United side, and his inclusion on Wednesday night feels crucial.