Manchester United fans were decidedly impressed with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s display at No.10 during their side’s 2-1 pre-season win over Sampdoria on Wednesday night.
The Armenian was handed a chance to start in behind Romelu Lukaku, with Jose Mourinho using a back three, and did brilliantly to start a counter attack on the edge of his own box and finish it with a headed effort from Matteo Darmian‘s cross.
He continued to terrorise Sampdoria’s back four, skipping past challenges and sending out passes out wide as Mourinho’s men dominated proceedings.
Supporters didn’t hesitate when it came to pointing out what was another strong performance this summer from the 28-year-old.
Mkhitaryan looks sharp. He can be an important player for #MUFC in the 2017/18 season.
— Naveen Ullal (@UllalIBT) August 2, 2017
— Inga . (@ISishuba) August 2, 2017
— 🔰 ED WOODWARD & GLAZERS OUT! 🔰 (@ALii_NaQvii) August 2, 2017
There are many advantages to using a back three with this current squad, not least because such a set-up favours both Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, and Mkhitaryan’s display at No.10 against Sampdoria.
Anybody playing at the axis of attack needs more than just individual brilliance on the ball; they need the right kind of runners around him. And using a back four and traditionally positioned wingers can often leave Mkhitaryan without many angles to work with. Things can occasionally get slightly one dimensional.
But with Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian bombing forward as wing backs and Paul Pogba taking players out of the game further forward, Mkhitaryan had acres of space to tear across and had Sampdoria pinned back for most of the first half.
Mourinho will continue to use a back four as his main system next season, but ought to take note of what Mkhitaryan can offer with a slightly different approach.