Manchester United vs Newcastle United: Potential XI with Juan Mata at No.10

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United fans will desperately hope that the free-scoring start their side made to the Premier League wasn’t just an anomalous thing of the past.

Emphatic wins over West Ham United, Swansea City, FC Basel, Everton, CSKA Moscow and Crystal Palace did not continue throughout October, with Jose Mourinho’s men managing just seven goals in as many games.

Needless to say, the clash at home to Newcastle United provides them with the perfect chance to put on a commanding performance going forward ahead of a crucial December period.

And with that in mind, here is a potential XI with Juan Mata featuring at No.10 instead of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

While others claimed the goals and adulation, it was the Armenian who instigated United’s early furore in front of goal this season, and his recent dip in form and confidence has percolated the rest of the squad in recent times.

He is a special player, no doubt, but also somebody who, when things aren’t going his way, can quickly veer towards the opposite end of the spectrum of influence, leaving no perceptible route of attack open for Romelu Lukaku and Co to exploit.

Giving Mata a chance to impress in that role, therefore, and handing Mkhitaryan a break from the starting XI makes sense.

The Spaniard lacks the thrust offered by Mkhitaryan and will, as such, need the likes of Marouane Fellaini and both full-backs to push Newcastle back as a means of ensuring he gets on the ball in productive areas – a massive problem for Mourinho in recent times.

Supporters will no doubt expect United to entertain on Saturday in response to recent criticism, and Mata needs to serve as a much-needed catalyst at No.10.

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