Erik ten Hag has hinted he could have a surprise plan to replace Casemiro when Manchester United take on Arsenal on Sunday.
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The Gunners welcome United to the Emirates with a five-point lead at the summit of the Premier League ahead of second place Manchester City. Ten Hag’s side missed the opportunity to go second themselves and close the gap midweek in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace after a stunning last minute equaliser from Michael Olise.
To make matters worse that evening, Casemiro picked up his fifth booking of the season that night, ruling him out of the Arsenal game.
The Brazil international has been in imperious form since being introduced to the United starting XI in October, playing a huge role in United’s unbeaten run which now stretches to 10 games.
United have already beaten Arsenal without Casemiro in the side this season with Scott McTominay partnering Christian Eriksen in central midfield that afternoon. Ten Hag also has Fred available with the Brazilian in good form heading into Sunday’s match.
Eyebrows were raised last Saturday as ten Hag opted to name Luke Shaw at centre-half in the derby against Manchester City with Lisandro Martinez left out of the side. The gamble paid off, with Shaw helping keep Erling Haaland quiet as United sealed a dramatic 2-1 victory.
And the United boss has suggested there could be another surprise on the way.
‘We will see what we do tomorrow,’ ten Hag told Sky Sports when asked how he will go about replacing Casemiro. ‘We have a plan, I think we have a good plan. It is like against Man City, sometimes you have to surprise the opponent.
‘We have a good plan, we spoke about it when we have to give the players the instructions, we train [with] it and tomorrow we have to go and challenge them.’
Ten Hag will be without two other members of his first-team with Diogo Dalot and Anthony Martial not making the trip to London.
Martial was forced off at half-time during last weekend’s Manchester derby and did not feature in United’s matchday squad at Selhurst Park.
Dalot, meanwhile, has missed United’s last two games as he continues his rehabilitation from a muscular injury.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is likely to continue in Dalot’s absence while January signing Wout Weghorst will have another chance to impress up front.
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