How Ten Hag will cope without Casemiro in midfield
January signing Marcel Sabitzer could get his chance for Manchester United in Casemiro’s absence
Manchester United will be without influential midfielder Casemiro for the next three games following his straight red card against Crystal Palace.
The Brazilian has transformed the Red Devils‘ midfield since arriving from Real Madrid for £70m last summer, but a moment of madness against the Eagles saw him sent off for the first time in his career.
It was another blow for boss Erik ten Hag, who also lost Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek from his engine room through injury.
Ahead of manager-less Leeds’ visit to Old Trafford, we take a look at how the Dutchman has managed without the 30-year-old.
First of all, it’s important to show how important Casemiro’s absence is for United.
The five-time Champions League winners have proved an inspiring signing, solving their old midfield conundrum.
The last time he didn’t start in any competition was also the only time they lost in 13 games since the World Cup – a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal last month.
Prior to that, his last absence from the United XI resulted in a 6-3 defeat at the hands of rivals Manchester City in October, with Aston Villa the only team to beat the Red Devils with their number 8 since then.
January signing Marcel Sabitzer is seen as a prime candidate to replace Casemiro against Leeds
The most obvious replacement for the Brazilian will be the one brought in in January for an event like this – albeit to replace the injured Eriksen rather than Casemiro.
Marcel Sabitzer is a player who arrived on the last day on loan from Bayern Munich and seemed the logical choice to start alongside the more defensive Fred, allowing Bruno Fernandes to keep going.
The Austrian made his debut in the 2-1 win over the Eagles, coming on for Antony in the 81st minute, and was in high spirits.
In a brief cameo, Ten Hag told MUTV: “[Sabitzer] understands football.
“You saw it from the start and in training as well. He’s done quite well, he’s very calm on the ball and he knows how to defend.
“We need players who understand the game and also bring the right spirit.”
While certainly a positive addition, match sharpness is sure to be a problem for the 28-year-old who has played just one minute in the league for Bayern since Austria failed to qualify for the World Cup.