Manchester United are the only English club still alive in all four competitions this season, but their campaign has taken a gloomier outlook now that Christian Eriksen is set for three months on the sidelines.
The great Dane, who United signed on a free this summer, has been a revelation this term, but he suffered an ankle injury, off a nasty challenge from Andy Carroll in the FA Cup 4th round win over Reading on Saturday.
The club officially stated earlier today:
“Christian Eriksen is expected to be out of action for an extended period because of an ankle injury sustained in our FA Cup victory over Reading on Saturday. While investigations are continuing, initial assessments indicate that Eriksen is likely to be out until late April or early May.
“However, there is hope that Christian can return in time to play a role in the final stages of the season.”
Obviously, this is a huge blow for United, and this revises their season expectations downward, significantly. Eriksen has been a playmaker extraordinaire for United, the engine to their attack. And with Donny van de Beek also out for the season, United have a big hole to fill in the midfield.
Hopefully, they can sign another midfielder to fill the void, but there is less than five hours remaining before the transfer window deadline closes.
Youri Tielemans would be ideal if they could make it happen.
So with Christian Eriksen now out for all of February, March and April, let’s look at what some of the biggest matches where United will be without their Danish midfield maestro.
Obviously, he’ll miss tomorrow’s EFL Cup semifinal leg 2/2 against Nottingham Forest, and then of course the title match, as United are all but through to the final. Most likely they will face Newcastle in that late February clash.
Also, March 1 brings the FA Cup fifth round, where United will take on West Ham United, in yet another edition of the David Moyes Cup.
In keeping with cup competition, but shifting to another tournament, United are set to tangle with FC Barcelona in the Europa League knockout rounds, Feb 16 and Feb 23.
In March, United have a very light schedule, especially so given 2022-23 season standards. After all this crazy fixture congestion, all season long, United have just the aforementioned FA Cup clash, and three league fixtures on the docket during the third month of the calendar year.
At least for now, but we’ll see if they progress through on the cup competitions.
In April, United have six league fixtures that Eriksen will be sidelined for, with two really key fixtures on the slate that stand out- visits to Newcastle United on April 1, and Tottenham Hotspur on April 25. Both have massive top four implications.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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