Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has six “chosen ones” within his ranks, according to Danny Blind, father of Red Devils defender Daley.
United stretched their unbeaten start to the season to 10 games on Saturday with a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Much of that success has been achieved with a core group of players, with Mourinho having picked his favourites and moulded his team around them.
"For Mourinho, that is the frame of his side. Valencia is also his captain. Around these six chosen ones, he keeps changing the players.
"Sometimes he makes a choice between Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial. Sometimes it is [Daley] Blind or Ashley Young or, rarely, Matteo Darmian."
Mourinho’s faith in his key men has been rewarded, with summer signings Matic and Lukaku having slipped seamlessly into the fold.
United’s £75 million striker has netted 11 times in 10 appearances, but Blind believes Armenian playmaker Mkhitaryan is the man who makes the Red Devils tick.
He added: “People talk about Lukaku, who gets a lot of goals. But you need a player who provides all the assists, who feeds the big goalscorer.
“He [Mkhitaryan] is so important for United. He keeps the tempo in the game, he is deadly with his one touch football near the box and he always has an eye for every situation in front of goal.”
United have entered the international break sat joint-top of the Premier League table, with arch-rivals City currently edging them out of first place by virtue of their superior goal difference – with there just one effort separating the two Manchester neighbours.