Sunday’s result against Arsenal was the game in which José Mourinho finally delivered on his threat to forsake Manchester United’s top-four hopes in search of a Europa League triumph. The Reds suffered a torrid afternoon at the Emirates, marking the end of a 25 game Premier League unbeaten run, one which must rank among the most uninspiring in football history. During the run United slipped from six points off the league leaders to nineteen. It is a damning statistic, yet the Reds are is still in the hunt for a second piece of silverware as the club welcomes Celta Vigo to Old Trafford with a place in the Europa League final at stake.
There was little excuse for Manchester United’s performance last Sunday as José Mourinho’s side slipped to yet another home draw, this time against Swansea City. Yet, for an increasingly unpredictable manager, finger-pointing was once again the order of the day as the Reds’ top-four hopes took a potentially terminal blow. There is room for improvement, with Mourinho taking his injury-hit squad to Spain on Thursday to face Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-final. In a decidedly mixed campaign, the sweetener of more silverware remains.
When Manchester United drew Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-final it had fans looking at Wikipedia, checking Whoscored for data, and reaching for the long-lost Galician guide books. Celta may not be one of La Liga’s giants, nor doing particularly well this season, but it is a team that has dispatched some decent quality opposition in this year’s competition. Celta is also the club that stands between United and a date in Stockholm at the end of May – and possible Champions League qualification.