Manchester United supporters might have wondered whether Paul Pogba had defected to France after seeing Armenia had battered Belarus 4-1 last week and that Henrikh Mkhitaryan had made the goals and assists columns.
Mkhitaryan's form has plummeted in recent weeks yet it is a measure of his significance that a player who could not get in the team a year ago now cannot get out of it. His bench berth at Huddersfield was more of a rest than a demotion and in a squad which, by Jose Mourinho's reckoning, is short of creativity Mkhitaryan remains indispensable, MEN says.
There are mitigating factors behind Mkhitaryan's forlorn form. He does not look quite himself without Pogba and the Frenchman's absence has been compounded by Mourinho placing grit ahead of guile in United's recent fixtures. United played their best football in a settled set-up in the first months and in the seven matches between the October internationals they played in 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 and 3-4-1-2.
It would be inaccurate to determine Mkhitaryan is the problem when he was not on the pitch for that first-half horror show at Huddersfield. Mourinho's preference for two strikers against Tottenham and Chelsea left Mkhitaryan - detached from the wing-backs - isolated and overwhelmed by Cesc Fabregas, N'Golo Kante and Tieumoue Bakayoko, just as he was by Liverpool's midfield trio.
Only Pogba has a higher dispossessed average than Mkhitaryan in the United squad and that is a consequence of risk-taking.
"Mourinho has invested more faith in Mkhitaryan than he would have liked. For a manager who privately bemoaned his squad's lack of innovation at the beginning of last tenure, an impotent attack has only been enhanced with Lukaku at the expense of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Antoine Griezmann and Ivan Perisic eluded United, so the pressure has increased on the creative pairing of Pogba and Mkhitaryan. The latter has become exposed without the former and the spell has coincided with United facing three of their big six competitors, showpieces Mkhitaryan has struggled to perform in," the article says.
"And that might be why United have not ended their interest in Griezmann and are monitoring Mesut Ozil's situation at Arsenal. The German is eager to reunite with Mourinho after they worked together for three years at Real Madrid and that might be the additional stimulus Mkhitaryan needs to regain his form."