Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains Juan Mata’s return to the Manchester United starting XI against Aston Villa

Juan Mata has been struggling to break into the Man Utd first team this season (Picture: Getty Images)

Juan Mata is back in the Manchester United starting XI for only the fifth time in the Premier League this season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting that he needs the Spaniard’s experience.

The 31-year-old has not started a Premier League match since 6 October when United lost 1-0 to Newcastle at St James’ Park.

The midfielder also started in a defeat to West Ham and draw with Southampton, with his only victory in the starting XI this season coming over Leicester City at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils host Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon and Mata is back in from the start, with Solskjaer praising his intelligence and the benefits of his vast experience.

‘Juan’s a top footballer, he’ll give that little clever pass, he’ll give us experience,’ said the Manchester United manager.

‘We do have a young team. We do have to rely on the experienced ones to play well.’

Solskjaer is continuing to deal with a number of injuries, especially in midfield, with Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic all failing to recover in time for this match.

Mata is playing in midfield with Andreas Pereira and Fred against Villa behind the front three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.

Solskjaer had high praise for Rashford, who has scored in his last five games for club and country.

‘He’s in fantastic form, he’s just improved and improved as the season’s gone along,’ said the manager.

‘He had a troublesome ankle in pre-season but he’;s now got over that one and he’s enjoying his football. He’s out there smiling, working hard and that’s all we can ask for from a Man United player.’

It is a change in formation from the last Premier League game when the Red Devils lined up with three centre-backs behind just Fred and Pereira in central midfield.

MORE: Marcus Rashford tipped to be a future Manchester United captain by Dimitar Berbatov

MORE: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer names four Manchester United players set for injury returns this month


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.