Mourinho channels Borg to keep Manchester United on track

Updated: 

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is taking inspiration from tennis great Bjorn Borg in order to keep his players focused on beating Arsenal.

United visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday before preparing for what could be a critical week in their season, with a Champions League clash at home to CSKA Moscow followed by the derby with Manchester City next Sunday.

With his side still competing for four trophies but needing to close an eight-point gap to City at the top of the Premier League, Mourinho's squad is facing an arduous test in the build-up to the hectic Christmas fixture schedule.

However, the Portuguese insists his players must adopt the ethos of 11-time grand slam champion Borg and his coaching staff and take each game as it comes.

"I play a game at a time. I think it's the way to do it," he told a news conference on Friday.

"Yesterday, I was watching an interesting movie: Bjorn Borg versus John McEnroe. Borg's coach was telling him: 'one point at a time, think just about one point'.

"I always tell my players to think just about the game. It doesn't matter what comes after or what happens before.

"It's just Arsenal. We don't think about how many points we are ahead of them or behind the leader. It's difficult enough to be focused on other things. Focus on this game."

Asked if he is more like the clinical Borg or the temperamental McEnroe, Mourinho replied:  "I don't play tennis. I love tennis, I don't play tennis."

United will be without Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marouane Fellaini for the game in north London, while Nemanja Matic is a doubt after limping off in the 4-2 win over Watford.

Mourinho, however, insists he will always aim to field his strongest side, regardless of the concerns about balancing his squad for the coming matches.

"I think I will always try to play the best possible team," he said. "I think, even if the Champions League match was a must-win match, I would forget it. "

Mourinho also suggested he will not simply set out his side to contain Arsene Wenger's side.

"I remember big matches. I remember coming to England in 2004; it was, for many years, Manchester United and Arsenal for the title," he said.

"When we have the ball, we are going to attack with 11 players. Even the goalkeeper needs to know what to do when we have the ball.

"When Arsenal have the ball, we're going to defend with 11 players."