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Jose Mourinho admits it was unfair to sub Henrikh Mkhitaryan during Manchester United’s FA Cup victory against Derby.

Manchester United have flown to Dubai for a warm weather training camp to prepare for the second half of the season.

Jose Mourinho is hopeful the five day break will allow his players a chance to recover from a run of five games in 14 days over Christmas and new year.

It is also the first time since September he has had the opportunity to have a full week of training with his entire squad.

United are struggling to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table with Pep Guardiola’s side 15 points clear.

But they still have a Champions League knockout campaign to look forward to for the first time since 2014, as well as a chance to win the FA Cup for the second time in the three years.

The trip to Dubai offers Mourinho an opportunity to iron some issues before the business end of the season gets going. Here is a look at five.

Scoring goals was a problem for United throughout last season and it seems to be back. They started the campaign averaging 3.2 goals a game in August and September. In December, it was 1.5. Mourinho highlighted the problem during the run of three draws against Leicester, Burnley and Southampton, insisting it was a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal rather than poor performances that was costing points.

In their last game against Derby, United had 28 shots but only second twice. It really should have been 4 0 by half time.

The pressure is back on Romelu Lukaku to score the goals with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has not travelled to Dubai, set to be out for a month with a knee problem. At least the Belgian looks to be playing himself back into some kind of form with four goals in his past nine games.

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United get an extended break to recover from a run of five games in 14 days.

Problems at set pieces

Despite having a physically imposing team, United have started to look a bit ragged at set pieces, conceding goals against Manchester City, West Brom and Burnley in December.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho and his coaching staff do not see it as evidence of a wider problem and have put the lapses down to a packed fixture list, with both the tiredness of the players and a lack of time on the training pitch considered contributing factors.

A week away should help, if only to recharge the batteries.

United’s defence is still the joint second best in the Premier League, so there isn’t that much wrong. Mourinho, though, will still want to put a stop to the “s ” goals that frustrated him so much during the run of three consecutive draws over Christmas.

What’s wrong with Henrikh Mkhitaryan?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started the season well with five assists in his first three games. But he hasn’t had one since. It is a problem for Mourinho, who spent almost the entire preseason in the United States building a team around the Armenian as the No. 10.

Mkhitaryan has only started two of United’s 15 games and struggled to even make the bench for much of November and December/

Given the form of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata both have been impressive over the past month the 28 year old faces a fight to get back into the team. There is interest from Inter Milan,
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but United are not ready just yet to cut their losses on a player who cost million 18 months ago. Last season, he was better in Europe than he was in the Premier League and he might still have a part to play in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Antonio Valencia has been missed down Manchester United’s right.

Get Antonio Valencia fit

It is a boost for Mourinho that Antonio Valencia was fit enough to board the flight to Dubai on Monday morning. He has missed the past six games with a hamstring injury and United have missed him.

He has turned into a dependable right back solid defensively and always willing to get forward even if his crossing is not what it could be.

Though Valencia has been sidelined, Victor Lindelof has stepped in. The Swede, signed from Benfica in the summer, has had some nervous moments but has, for the most part, adapted well.

Still, United miss Valencia as an attacking outlet on the right, especially when it comes to stretching defences that are happy to defend on their edge of their own box. Sources have told ESPN FC that, providing he does not suffer a setback this week, he should be fit to start against Stoke at Old Trafford on Monday.

For the first time in his United career, Rashford is taking a bit of stick from an, albeit small, section of supporters.

The 20 year old has scored twice in his past 19 games, and should have had at least one against Derby County on Friday night. On another night he might have had two after hitting the post twice either side of half time.

He is going through a spell perhaps for the first time in senior football where things just aren’t going his way. It might be as simple as getting a bit of confidence back ahead of the second half of the season. Mourinho, a master of man management, should be able to help with that.
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