The Manchester United manager presided over a narrow Europa League semi-final first leg win over Celta Vigo on Thursday and believes winning that competition represents his side’s best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
United remain in contention for a top four finish – they currently sit just a point behind Manchester City – but with trips to Arsenal and Tottenham to come during the run-in, Mourinho has made the Europa League his clear priority.
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The Special One will be protecting a proud unbeaten Premier League record against Arsene Wenger when his side travels to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but he is ready to jeapordise that to ensure his team are fresh for Thursday’s second leg against the Spanish side at Old Trafford.
‘It’s a short result, it could have been better [against Celta],’ he said.
‘Seeing Celta’s trajectory in the Europa League, they definitely deserve respect for the second leg.
‘The players are in accumulation with lots of minutes because we played nine matches in April and now this one, so 10 in four-and-a-half weeks.
‘The players in that accumulation are not going to play this weekend [against Arsenal].’
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United will already be without long-term injury victims Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw, while both Ashley Young and Marcus Rashford are highly doubtful after sustaining knocks during the 1-0 win over Celta last night.