Unlikely duo set for Europa League starts, probably in place of Jones & Lingard: report

Manchester United are just hours away from their biggest game in recent memory. The Red Devils are in Stockholm, ready to take on Ajax, for a place in the Champions League next season. The game itself will define our season, and it’s going to be an intriguing watch.

Ahead of the game, Rob Dawson from ESPN has claimed that he expects Juan Mata and Chris Smalling to start, probably in the place of both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Personally, I’d be shocked to see this happen for a number of reasons, but it’d be classic Jose to throw everyone a curveball like this.

It looked for all the world that Phil Jones was going to get the nod, particularly after Chris Smalling was injured and couldn’t play over the weekend. Since the English duo have returned, I’d definitely say that Jones has played much better than his teammate. So, it does seem a bit odd that Mourinho would opt for the player who has been injured for longer, as well as the fact that Smalling isn’t playing as well.

As for Juan Mata’s return to the side, I guess I understand it as he brings creativity to the table, but the Spaniard has barely played any football over the last few months. On top of that, I’m of the opinion that Jesse Lingard has done superbly well whenever called upon, and his defensive work rate, against a quick, strong Ajax side would definitely come in handy…

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