JOSE Mourinho claims the Premier League fixtures over the busy festive period have been arranged to “give rest to some and create problems for others”.
Manchester United face Sunderland on Boxing Day before Middlesbrough visit Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve, with a further two matches against West Ham and Reading in the FA Cup taking place in the first week of January.
Although all sides in the top flight are facing a similar pile-up of matches, Mourinho has suggested that the games are arranged to be more beneficial to some teams than others.
“The busy period is for some clubs and not for everyone because if you analyse there is no congestion for them, the fixtures are chosen to give some rest for some and create problems for others,” said the Portuguese.
“But we are used to it because we are in the Europa League, which creates more difficulties. We know that, so it is just more of the same and it’s good for us to have everybody available, but for Luke Shaw.”
Mourinho had told MUTV that Shaw is not far from a return to full fitness and he later confirmed the full-back is United’s only injury absentee, meaning Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling are in line to face Sunderland, while it is hoped that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be available.
“Chris Smalling is back, Eric Bailly is back, Marcos Rojo is fine, Daley Blind is fine, so centre-back is a position where it’s very important to have some stability in the options,” he said.
“We were in a difficult position a couple of months ago but now we are safe. We know that Bailly is going to the African Cup [of Nations] in January, but for the next three matches, we have them.”