Henrikh Mkhitaryan provided the first evidence on Thursday night of why #Manchester United paid in excess of £25 million for his services. The summer signing from Borussia Dortmund has been conspicuous by his absence so far this season – he had only played 134 minutes of #Football up until Thursday. But he was excellent during United’s 4-0 Europa League win over Feyenoord.
As a team, United produced arguably their best performance of the season. They showed attacking intent throughout, with a total of 22 shots resulting in four unanswered goals. Captain Wayne Rooney enjoyed a resurgent night as he moved within one goal of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record. Along with Rooney, United fans will be most pleased with Mkhitaryan, who finally showed his true potential.
Adapting to the Premier League
Mkhitaryan’s slow start to the season is in many ways understandable. Like numerous other overseas players that come to the #Premier League, he is taking time to adapt to the speed and physicality of the games. Manager Jose Mourinho has admitted as much, and called on Mkhitaryan to replicate Thursday’s performance in the league. His comments could pave the way for Mkhitaryan to start at home to West Ham United on Sunday.
The Armenian midfielder was a vibrant attacking force on Thursday. He had a game-high six shots, showed a good understanding with teammates and also won the ball back several times in key areas. Mourinho alluded to the fact that Mkhitaryan may have had a confidence issue when he first moved to England, and the man himself said after the game that he hoped his improved performance signalled a new start.
Brilliant for Dortmund
Mkhitaryan’s performances in his final season at Dortmund should provide him with sufficient self-belief. Across 52 games in all competitions, the Armenian showed his all-round ability with 23 goals and 32 assists. It was that sparkling creative ability that persuaded United and Mourinho to make him one of their four key signings over the summer.
Up until now, he has been the least successful of those signings. Eric Bailly looked solid in central defence before his injury, while Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have shown flashes of brilliance despite failing to consistently reach their own high standards.
The performance against Feyenoord suggests that he could soon live up to his billing. His Dortmund stats indicate that he could be the creative influence that United have been missing. It will be interesting to see if he can reproduce Thursday’s display if selected in the Premier League on Sunday.