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Watch: 5 Take-Aways From Henrikh Mkhitaryan's Feyenoord Highlights

Watch: 5 Take-Aways From Henrikh Mkhitaryan's Feyenoord Highlights
By Mikey Traynor
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Despite Wayne Rooney answering the critics in the perfect way possible; scoring and assisting in an otherwise fantastic performance en route to a 4-0 win in Europe, his spotlight was stolen somewhat by a teammate.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was an emotional wreck, outcast by his manager for not being tough enough, and already looking for an escape route... If you believe what you read in the tabloids, but in reality he needed time to find his feet in a new country and unlike the vast majority of players who desperately need that time... He was given it.

It's not to be dressed up as a managerial masterstroke, but the Mkhitaryan we saw in the Manchester derby, and the one we saw last night were two different players. That suggests Mourinho was correct to take the Armenian out of the spotlight and ease him back into the fold by introducing him in a game where he knew his talents would flourish.

And flourish they did.

Mkhitaryan was electric, and played the game at a pace that saw the Old Trafford faithful on their feet any time he touched the ball. His individual highlights have surfaced on the Man Utd subreddit, and understandably the fans are fawning over the performance.

The only thing that was missing was a goal, but Mkhitaryan played with a positivity and confidence that was expected when he arrived from Dortmund, but was not expected last night considering how it seemed his time in England had been going so far.


Here are five take-aways that are clearly evident after looking back on his performance.

1. He has an extra gear that few players have.

Good lord the lad has burners. His pace was never really in question, but he has these moments where his feet move so fast you can't see them and it looks like he's playing in fast forward while those around him are on regular human time.

The best example of this is his incredible run in the second half that was embarrassingly not called a foul. Seemingly Feyenoord defenders trying desperately to grab any limb they can catch before bundling into him from behind while he's running at beyond top speed isn't a foul. Ok then.


2. One-touch passing might be the key to getting the best out of Wayne Rooney.

Wayne Rooney's much, much-improved performance is not a direct result of Mkhitaryan's presence, but it certainly helped. Largely due to the one-touch passing that is a cornerstone of the Armenian's game.


Mkhitaryan can be seen moving before he's even received the ball on a number of occasions, and this type of movement is what Rooney needs around him now more then ever, not to mention the sharp, accurate passing that makes up the recipient's mind for them.

The examples here are two through-balls, one from Rooney and one from Ibrahimovic, that were slightly overhit after some lovely interplay, and resulted in a wasted chance. There


3. Man Utd can thrive without a traditional winger.

An attacking quartet of Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Mkhitaryan, and Mata looked to all be on the same page from the off. They interchanged, with all four taking up wide positions on occasion, but posed the biggest threat with quick feet around the edge of the area.

We've seen in recent years a real reluctance to playing without someone hugging the touchline, as the ability for someone to get to the line and get a cross in, is part of 'The United Way', but with Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw on the pitch that job is done.

United suffered from an over-reliance on Anthony Martial last season at times, and would regularly find him alone on the wing and ask him to beat three or four players to create a chance. While Martial actually did do this many times, most notably against Everton in stoppage time of the FA Cup final, not exactly a reliable gameplan.


Another complaint was passing just for the sake of it under LVG, as the ball would go to one side and then slowly back to the other, and then back to De Gea. With so many naturally central creators we saw more clever use of space and movement after passes.

4. His familiarity with high pressing is a huge plus.

Feyenoord's defenders and midfielders were gasping for air after 20 minutes, as United did not allow them to breathe. Mkhitaryan, along with Michael Carrick, were the difference makers here as they didn't allow an inch and won the ball back in enemy territory time and time again.

This tactic won't be as successful in the big games against high-level opposition, but those matches have not been the problem for Mourinho. The pressure was constant, and Mkhitaryan's familiarity with that style from his time at Dortmund is a big asset if this is how Manchester United are going to play going forward.


5. He is well capable of making a difference for Manchester United.

There are still genuine questions over whether Mkhitaryan will be another high-profile flop at Manchester United. Looking at how Shinji Kagawa, a clearly talented player, struggled after making the move from Dortmund, and how adjusting to life in Manchester made Angel Di Maria get the first flight to Paris, it would be careless to point out that both of those players put in performances of the calibre of Mkhitaryan's last night.

If the club can handle this situation differently and keep Mkhitaryan's confidence high, they have a difference maker on their hands.

But this was just a fantastic performance against Feyenoord, there is no need to get carried away. There will be calls for Mourinho to give him the start against West Ham now, and you would feel from looking at social media that he will face criticism if he elects not to do so, but he will surely approach with caution after what was a very bright performance after a time of darkness for the former Dortmund man.


If he does start against West Ham, then it's a sign that Moruinho feels he is ready to be relied upon consistently. There is a chance that he is not quite there yet, so we'll just have to wait and see.

SEE ALSO: Henrik Mkhitaryan Takes Deserved Plaudits For MOTM Performance Vs Feyenoord

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