We’ll see if Manchester United want to appeal the red card suspension imposed on Casemiro or not. And if they do, it is still kind of a longshot in terms of getting it overturned.
As it stands, it appears they’ll be without the services of their midfield maestro for the next four matches, beginning with United’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash with Fulham next Sunday, and it will end with their Premier League match versus Everton on April 8.
Casemiro will also be absent for the games against Newcastle (April 2) and Brentford (April 5) as well. He will, however be eligible to play in the Europa League Round of 16 second leg tie versus Real Betis on Thursday, as English FA suspensions do not cover continental competition.
And thus, we won’t see Casemiro in league play again until United travel to Nottingham Forest on April 15. The Brazilian is a huge part of what they do, as he is indeed the engine that makes the machine on the pitch run.
Fellow holding midfielder Christian Eriksen will miss all the games listed above, and more, as he remains out until late April at the earliest, but more likely early May.
Adding to the woes is the unavailability of January transfer window signing Marcel Sabitzer, who has unspecified injury. It is unclear how severe his issue is, but the Austrian has already been ruled out of the UEL clash this week.
That means Ten Hag has only two certain to be healthy and available defensive midfielders for the upcoming stretch- Fred and Scott McTominay. The former hasn’t quite lived up to his transfer fee, overall, but he’s having a solid season. Ten Hag has been able to get the most out of him, and he certainly has his moments.
The latter used to have a regular place, but he’s fallen out of favor and his form has dropped a bit. It is very likely they sell him this summer.
So if Ten Hag wants to stick with his 4-2-3-1, formation it would be have to be this pairing that forms the “2” in that lineup.
Although today he went with a 4-1-4-1 in the goalless draw against Southampton. If the Dutchman wants to go this route, the option would be to have Fred take the place of Casemiro.
Another idea is to put defenders in the middle of the park instead.
We’ve seen both Manchester City and Liverpool do this in recent years- shifting central defenders and defensive midfielders in and out of their corresponding position groups. This method of swapping out and in has worked/not worked to various degrees.
If you are going to pull a player out of central defense and place him further up field, perhaps Raphael Varane is the choice. He’s a crafty veteran with a wealth of experience and numerous skills and abilities.
That said, only Ten Hag really knows what the right thing to do here is. Thus far, he’s been a home run hire as manager, so we should trust his decision making, to the fullest, at this point.
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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