With Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to fitness, Jose Mourinho has a big decision to make reports Skysports. Should he persist with Romelu Lukaku up front? Or is it time to unleash last season’s top scorer?
Lukaku made a blistering start to his Manchester United career, scoring 11 goals in his first 10 appearances, but he finds himself in the spotlight having only found the net twice in his last 12.
The pressure is heightened by Ibrahimovic’s return to the fold, with Mourinho confirming the Swede has a “big chance” of being available for Sunday’s Manchester derby. So who should he pick?
The case for Lukaku
Lukaku has struggled in front of goal recently but his strike against CSKA Moscow could be exactly the boost he needed. “Make no mistake, that goal was as important as any goal that he has scored in his career,” said Jamie Redknapp on The Debate on Tuesday. “It will give so much confidence ahead of the Manchester derby at the weekend.”
The Belgian was similarly energetic against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, and United will need more of the same at Old Trafford on Sunday. That level of intensity is something Ibrahimovic, 36 years old and only recently back from a serious knee injury, might not be able to provide.
Time for Zlatan?
He might not have youth on his side, but Ibrahimovic remains one of the most reliable goalscorers in the game. The Swede hit 28 of them last season, including a stunning volley the last time Manchester City visited Old Trafford. It was an example of his ability to conjure something out of nothing and also highlighted his tendency to rise to the big occasion.
Indeed, Ibrahimovic’s record in big games is considerably more impressive than Lukaku’s. The Belgian has failed to find the net against Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool this season, and the issue stretches back to his Everton days. In fact, since 2014/15, he has only hit five goals in 39 meetings against the Premier League’s big six.