Two games into the Premier League season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has already established himself as the side’s key creative force. With an incredible four assists in just two games, the Armenian has been instrumental to his team’s goalscoring form.
It’s been a surprising move for Jose Mourinho to drop dynamic Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera in the first few weeks of the campaign, but that has almost entirely been in order to deploy Mkhitaryan in his preferred role.
Whereas Paul Pogba was often occupying the central attacking midfield role, he is now sitting deeper alongside Nemanja Matic looking to break forward. Then, the former Dortmund man would be forced wide onto the right. Now, he has made the number ten role his own in behind Romelu Lukaku.
His movement in the role makes it almost impossible for the opposition to keep him under wraps, as Swansea found. Leroy Fer and Roque Mesa tried to close him down but neither could quite keep track of his movement as he drifted around the danger area, going wide or deep when required to find the ball.
The 28-year-old also boasts superb vision. His passing is key to his game and has helped him to record the four assists. Despite making a huge 62 passes on Saturday, 90.3% of them were successful with four of them deemed key passes in creating goalscoring opportunities for his side.
His creativity has also been vital in helping the Red Devils to find the breakthrough against these sides. In both of the club’s opening two fixtures, Mkhitaryan’s fitness has helped him to maintain that level of creativity right into the closing stages of the game and tear defences apart with six of the club’s eight goals coming in the last ten minutes.
That shows where Mkhitaryan has really brought his game on. The midfielder struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League early last season and his fitness was clearly not up to scratch, with this season a clear upgrade.
Now, he must work on his finishing. From five shots this season, he has only got one on target. One of the club’s top goalscorers last season, he will expect to improve that ratio as the season goes on.
What is for sure is that he’s had a fine start to the season and if Manchester United are to be successful, they will be reliant upon the quality and craft of this Armenian midfielder.