Weblog: The football punter

No time for rest as old rivals do battle again

THE idea that Jose Mourinho is going to rest players this weekend should make perfect sense.

Man United are at the mid-point of a Europa League semi-final and Mourinho does love to show off a trophy, doesn’t he? And fourth place in the Premier League doesn’t come with any silverware.

But hang on a minute. Who are United playing this Sunday? Which Premier League adversary is going to benefit from Jose deciding to stick the kit man up front and the tea lady at right-back? Why none other than Arsenal. Oh really?

If there’s one thing that Mourinho hates more than not being talked about, it’s Arsene Wenger, a man he’s derived enormous pleasure from humiliating over several seasons in England.

So can we really expect Mourinho to give the Prof his smarmiest smile, warmest of handshakes and then throw in the towel?

I’m not buying into that. Mourinho could take anyone from Real Madrid to Dartford thirds to the Emirates and still wind Wenger up to such an extent that he avoids defeat and this weekend will be no different.

Wenger will want this victory like no other, Mourinho will stop him and the visitors on the handicap are the bet.

Best bet, however, is West Brom at Burnley. No goals in five, four straight defeats, why bother with the Baggies, you may ask. But Tony Pulis won’t be happy with this flip-flop act and I can see him demanding a response at Turf Moor against a Burnley outfit who are still hungover from their first away win in a generation.

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Match in Focus

20:00 We 20Sep SKY

Man Utd v Burton

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • United have conceded in just one of five league games
Expert verdict
Holders Manchester United have started the season in excellent form and the title-chasing Red Devils should have little trouble overcoming poor-travelling Burton in the third round of the League Cup at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team throughout last term’s competition, which saw his side oust Northampton, rivals Manchester City, West Ham, Hull and Southampton on their way to silverware. Burton have won just two of their last 12 league away games.