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Two ways Manchester United could line up without Casemiro amid three-match ban

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 05/02/2023 Isaac Johnson
Marcel Sabitzer could make his first start as a result of Casemiro's ban © Getty Images Marcel Sabitzer could make his first start as a result of Casemiro's ban

Erik ten Hag will be mulling over how to best set up his Manchester United side amid Casemiro's three-game suspension.

The 30-year-old was shown a straight red card for violent conduct on 70 minutes in the club’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday after grabbing Will Hughes by the throat.

It means he will have to sit out the league encounters with Leeds, both home and away, and Leicester this month. His suspension does not affect his participation in United’s Europa League clashes with Barcelona, nor the League Cup final on February 26.

READ MORE: David de Gea praises United for reaction after Casemiro red card

But for the matches he will miss, Ten Hag will have to decide who comes in to replace the linchpin, who has been among United’s best players this season. It’s not the first time he has had to weather this problem after Casemiro sat out the 3-2 loss to Arsenal due to yellow card suspension.

However, it is different this time with Christian Eriksen out with an ankle problem until April. The most likely line-up would see Fred keep his place alongside January deadline day signing Marcel Sabitzer, who was brought in to fill the gap left by Eriksen, with Bruno Fernandes occupying his usual advanced role.

In the defeat to Arsenal, Scott McTominay was selected to come in. He covered the field amply as United put in a hearted display that would have encouraged Ten Hag.

The Scot is currently injured but if he does become available, Ten Hag's second option could be to have McTominay partner Sabitzer in midfield. The Austrian would be expected to help going both ways but have more licence going forward in this set-up, meaning it would be interesting to see how he would link up with Fernandes ahead of him.

Fred and McTominay’s midfield partnership has been slammed in previous seasons. Fans have rarely seen them play together since Ten Hag's appointment, so it would be interesting to see their development together under him.

The hope is that Sabitzer would come straight in but Ten Hag sparingly bled Casemiro into his United system during the first month after his arrival and could do the same with Sabitzer, who did not enjoy regular starts at Bayern Munich prior to his temporary switch.

Anthony Martial would start if fit, otherwise Wout Weghorst takes his spot.

Some may argue for Fernandes to drop deeper but he has not played there under Ten Hag - the Dutchman’s tendency to sometimes put him on the right rather than drop him back indicates his thoughts on the playmaker’s best assets.

Meanwhile, Lisandro Martinez does have the capability of playing in defensive midfield, but with the blockade in Casemiro gone, it would be unwise to break up the solid partnership he and Raphael Varane have formed.

The rest of the starting XI picks itself, with David de Gea in goal and Aaron Wan-Bissaka - who will likely soon be under pressure from Diogo Dalot - and Luke Shaw occupying the full-back spots. Antony would take up his usual place on the right while the red-hot Marcus Rashford continues on the left.



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