I was full of excitement when Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in 2016. Not as excited as when Shinji Kagawa joined but, yeah, still pretty fucking excited.
These technically gifted gliders, as I like to call them because of the way they appear to glide above the surface when in full sprint, are easy on the eye but demand a team be built around them. For Mkhitaryan, it never made sense teaming up with Jose Mourinho.
Too soft. Not capable of working hard enough defensively. Too Arsenal.
Still, Mkhitaryan was arguably United’s star player in last season’s Europa League scoring six goals in 10 games, as per Who Scored, and it was his goal at the beginning of the second half against Ajax in Stockholm that saw the Reds triumphant.
The Armenian left for Arsenal in January as part of the a deal that saw Alexis Sanchez go the other way. It goes without saying that United got the better deal and I’m still buzzing about that, but should we be concerned about Mkhitaryan’s return to fitness in time for this weekend’s Premier League clash.
In short: no.
Mkhitaryan has been side-lined since their 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow earlier this month when he damaged knee ligaments. It was initially feared that he would be absent for longer, however, Mkhitaryan is back and ready to face his former club.
It will be his first game back from injury so 1) Mkhitaryan probably won’t even start and 2) an early tackle might leave him calling to be substituted — especially if Eric Bailly is around.
Since the beginning of the season, for both Manchester United and Arsenal, Mkhitaryan has contributed with four goals and 12 assists in 34 appearances.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game, Wenger said, as per Arseblog News: “We have no new problems. Mkhitaryan is available. Elneny is out, Cazorla too of course.
“Everyone else is OK.”
The Mkhitaryan we know will go into hiding for 90 minutes, fall over when ever so slightly touched and whine about Mourinho’s footballing methods.
Stick the boot in early, lads.