Second-string United will still fight: Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is likely to field a weakened team against Arsenal tomorrow, taking into consideration the second leg of the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo next week.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is likely to field a weakened team against Arsenal tomorrow, taking into consideration the second leg of the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo next week.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has defended his decision to field a weakened team against Arsenal tomorrow, saying that the Manchester United side he picks will "fight for a result" at the Emirates Stadium.

United, who beat Celta Vigo 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, are a place and five points ahead of sixth-place Arsenal (who have a game in hand) in the Premier League table.

Mourinho has said that he is aiming to extend that gap with a win, despite the intention to rest several players.

"We are going to try. We are not going to Arsenal to say, 'Beat us'. We are going there to fight for a result. But it's impossible not to rest players," he said.

"I cannot now play with the same team that played at Celta. And then repeat it again next Thursday (in the second leg).

"So, we have to be sensible and use common sense in relation to our situation in the Premier League, and I think the last match against Swansea was our last chance to fight for a top-four place, so I am going to rest players, sure."

WEARY FIGHT

We are going there to fight for a result. But it's impossible not to rest players.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, suggesting that some of his first-team regulars will be rested against Arsenal.

By fielding a weakened team at the Emirates, though, Mourinho risks suffering a first league defeat against long-standing rival Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal manager Wenger has managed just one win over Mourinho - in the 2015 Community Shield - during his time at Chelsea and United in 16 previous meetings.

Mourinho also welcomed Wenger's wish for peace by stating there is no problem between them.

The pair have endured a fraught relationship since the Portuguese entered English football as Chelsea manager in 2004, but on Thursday Wenger said: "I am open always in life to everything, for peace."

Mourinho, after the game in Vigo, said: "He doesn't need to say he is ready to make peace. He doesn't need to because there are no problems.

"In the last match at Old Trafford (a 1-1 draw in November), we shook hands before and after - I remember that I still met him in the corridor for the press conferences, we shook hands again.

"So for me not a problem at all and I think he will be really pleased with me that I am going to change my team against Arsenal. I think he'll be really happy with me."

Mourinho also suggested goalkeeper David de Gea could play in the Europa League final should United reach it despite Sergio Romero being the regular No. 1 in the tournament so far.

"I don't like to say this competition is for one goalkeeper, that competition is for another one," he said.

"I don't like that complete separation. But Sunday, David plays."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Second-string United will still fight: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe