Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday would have served as a perfect confidence booster ahead of their potential even more important clash with Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday.
Jose Mourinho’s men will have the advantage heading into the second leg of their quarter-final tie with the Belgian side following a 1-1 draw in Belgium.
Anderlecht’s late equaliser – their first shot on target – would have been an important wake up call for Man United ahead of a game that they simply have to win.
This is a game that Man United need to control from start to finish. Deploying Carrick at the base of midfield, therefore, seems like the logical thing to do. He calmly dictated proceedings in Belgium and will want to do the same at Old Trafford, maintaining composure and poise as Mourinho’s men look to navigate their way to a Europa League semi-final.
And you could tell that Mkhitaryan, more than anyone else, was kept in reserve on Sunday with this game in mind. The Armenian has been an effervescent figure in Europe this season and his mazy influence could be what it takes to send United through.