How Manchester United fare with and without suspended Casemiro

Casemiro has won more interceptions, tackles and duels than any Man United player – despite missing their first three games… while Erik ten Hag attempted to play down his absence, it’s clear they WILL miss their Brazilian talisman at Arsenal

  • Manchester United travel to Arsenal on Sunday without midfielder Casemiro
  • The Brazilian is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card this season
  • Casemiro’s £70m summer arrival has been a game changed for the Red Devils
  • The Brazilian offers something that United’s other midfielders fail to provide
  • Casemiro was just a substitute when United beat Arsenal earlier this season 

Manchester United go into their biggest game of the season against Arsenal without arguably their most important player. 

Casemiro picked up his fifth booking of the season and a one-match suspension when he brought down Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha in the 80th minute at Selhurst Park – in a huge blow to Erik ten Hag, after his side also squandered three points in stoppage time. 

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta would be ‘dancing around his living room’ at the thought of Casemiro’s absence in the clash this weekend.

Casemiro will be a big miss for Manchester United in their clash with rivals Arsenal on Sunday

Casemiro received his fifth yellow card of the season in the draw against Crystal Palace

Redknapp has a point as Casemiro will be missed when the two sides meet at the Emirates on Sunday, and Ten Hag will have to work out how his side can win the midfield battle without their Brazilian destroyer. 

On the back of arguably their worst Premier League season to date, under Ten Hag United have improved massively this season.

While the draw against Crystal Palace was a blow, a victory at the Emirates would move them just five points off the league leaders with a further 18 matches to play.

United had been crying out for a dominant midfielder since the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson. Recent seasons have seen United trust the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield, only to be battered by the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Brighton and Watford.

Since Casemiro’s £70m arrival from Real Madrid, there has been a massive improvement since he was brought into the starting line-up. 

There were big signs of concern when United suffered defeats in their opening two games of the season with a 2-1 loss by Brighton followed by a 4-0 hammering by Brentford.

Casemiro has been the dominant midfielder that United have been desperately looking for

United had signed Casemiro before their next game with Liverpool, which was the only game this season across all competitions, where they have won without the Brazilian international.

Following games saw him come off as a bench option, though, the 6-3 defeat by Man City was the final straw, with Casemiro starting every Premier League game since he made a positive impact in a game where City had been running riot before his introduction.

Despite missing the opening three games to the season and only coming off the bench in their following four matches, Casemiro has the most interceptions, duels and tackles out of any Manchester United player this season.

He has made 54 successful tackles this season, with Bruno Fernandes the only other midfielder to make the top five with 40, followed by Lisandro Martinez (29), Diogo Dalot (27) and Luke Shaw (25).

He has the joint-most interceptions at 21 with Dalot, one ahead of Martinez and Shaw, and six ahead of Tyrell Malacia (15).  

Casemiro has also won a mammoth 104 duels, 24 ahead of second best Fernandes, with Martinez (65), Dalot (62) and Marcus Rashford finishing the top five.

Though the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay have seen a reduction in game time this season with the additions of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen, it will be worrying for Ten Hag to see that no other midfield player gets near to the Brazilian in terms of these key statistics.

He is also averaging higher numbers than United’s other midfield in terms of tackles and duels despite Fred and McTominay playing less minutes. 

Casemiro is winning 4.2 tackles per match compared to Fred on 2.6 and McTominay on 2.05. He is also miles ahead of his team-mates in terms of duels won with 8.08 compared to Fred’s 4.71 and McTominay on 6.28.

One positive Ten Hag though can take is that Fred is averaging more interceptions on 1.9 per game, and possession won which is 9.58 compared to Casemiro’s 7.93. 

Though United don’t have another midfield who can offer what Casemiro does, Ten Hag was clear to point out after the Palace draw that his side beat Arsenal in a match in which the Brazilian did not start.  

Ten Hag acknowledged this following the game as he said: ‘First, this game was important. Every game in the Premier League is a top game.

‘Second is Casemiro is obviously a really important player for us, he’s one of the reasons we are where we are now.

Scott McTominay or Fred will have to fill the void left by the Brazilian international on Sunday

‘But last time we beat Arsenal without Casemiro so we have a squad, we have to fill the gap, make a proper plan and the squad have to fill it and make sure, as a team. We already showed how to beat Arsenal.’

Casemiro played just the final 10 minutes against the Gunners at Old Trafford, handing them their only Premier League defeat of the season in a 3-1 win.

On that day, United played with McTominay alongside Eriksen with Bruno Fernandes ahead of the duo.  

That should be balanced though with that Arsenal were also missing their figurehead in midfielder in the form of Thomas Partey – with Albert Sambi Lakonga making one of his only two starts this season in his place.

Erik ten Hag was quick to remind people that United beat Arsenal earlier this season – when Casemiro only came on as a substitute with 10 minutes left to play in the contest

Manchester United’s defensive figures are also significantly worse when the Brazilian is absent.  

United have averaged 2.3 goals conceded without Casemiro, compared to just 0.9 with him. While they have conceded 15 shots per match compared to 10.8 when he’s playing. 

While they have won just 33.3 per cent of their three matches without him, and conceded 15 shots per match compared to 10.8 when he’s playing. 

Casemiro’s booking against Palace appeared to come after he was frustrated with team-mate Fernandes losing the ball.

Redknapp said that the draw with Palace ‘couldn’t have gone any worse’, labelling Casemiro’s absence against Palace as a massive blow.

He said: ‘We spoke before the game about Casemiro. Don’t get booked. Don’t get into any confrontations. It was so important because they need him on Sunday.

Casemiro has won more duels, interceptions and tackles than any other Manchester United player this season despite missing their first three games

‘When he got booked in the 80 minute, it was like the steam was completely taken out of Manchester United.

‘It affected them so much. They knew that there most important player, in that defensive role, was missing.’

Redknapp added: ‘It was a moment of madness. You could see Casemiro was furious with Bruno Fernandes, who jumped out of a (previous) challenge.

‘That’s why he ends up one-on-one with Zaha and he gets booked. It could have been a red card. It’s a scandalous challenge. It’s reckless.

‘I could just see Mikel Arteta when that happened dancing around his living room because he is so important to Man Utd. They have got no-one who can do what he does in the team.

‘They’re going to have to bring in Fred or Scott McTominay. If you look Arsenal at the moment with (Martin) Odegaard, (Granit) Xhaka and Partey that midfield is functioning so well.

‘I can only really see it benefitting Arsenal in such a huge way. They’ve got so much confidence right now, which makes them red hot favourites.’

Whoever replaces Casemiro, will need to step up, in a game that could make or break United’s title challenge.  

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