Paul Pogba’s sending off sucked the life out of Manchester United’s exciting victory at the Emirates. The game, an instant Premier League classic, was suddenly made irrelevant as Pogba saw red, and every United fan immediately knew what it meant for the next weekend.
Pogba will miss the derby.
Pogba’s presence has been invaluable to United this season. The side average 3 goals per game with Pogba, and 1 without. He has 3 goals and 4 assists so far this season, and has undoubtedly been the most consistent player for the Red Devils.
So the question is: How do United prepare for the Manchester derby, the biggest game of the year thus far, without Pogba?
Perhaps the answer is to bring out the big gun, or should I rather say, the Lion.
Start Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Zlatan wants to play no. 10? Let Zlatan play no. 10. He’s skilled on the ball for someone who has made his career as a target man, and his superb vision will help create chances for in-form players like Martial and Lingard.
In his time at Paris Saint-Germain, Ibrahimović would often play creator as well as goal scorer, and he could provide the partnership up top Lukaku needs to rise amongst the goals again.
In addition to the tactical advantages of starting Zlatan, It would be a statement of intent from José Mourinho that this team is ready to compete. Mourinho must utilize his star talent, especially when THE Star talent is suspended. Zlatan was not re-signed to be a backup. He wants the Premier League title, so why not let him get it for you?
Starting Ibrahimović with Romelu Lukaku has its risks. Maybe he would be better coming on with half an hour to better utilize his energy, but putting him in the starting eleven makes a statement that this team is here to challenge for the title, and is willing to attack to close the current 8-point gap on City.
Winter has come, and so has Zlatan. Right now is when United need him most.