Manchester United’s Mason Mount has picked up an injury and will hence miss United’s next two games against Nottingham Forest and Arsenal.
In the Premier League, Mount’s midfield partnership with Casemiro has also drawn flak from fans and pundits as they struggled to beat Wolves on the first day before bowing down to Tottenham. However, the Englishman gave a much better performance in the match against Spurs. He was crucial in building up attacks and even had his fair share of defensive contributions.
However, with his injury and the lack of any concrete moves for the signing of any other midfielder, Erik ten Hag is in a crux ahead of the international break. let’s look at a few ways, The Reds could lineup without Mount for their next two games.
#1- Christian Eriksen coming in as the likeliest replacement
Eriksen joined United on a free transfer last season. The veteran picked it up well, as he recorded six assists in the early part of the season. However, he was soon sidelined for over two months due to an ankle injury. Sadly, the Dane has yet to regain his old form since his return.
However, with Mount gone, Eriksen is the like-for-like change to partner Casemiro in the midfield. Eriksen has earlier partnered Casemiro in the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Bruno Fernandes serving as the CAM in the team.
In the last year, Eriksen averaged around 8 progressive passes per 90. Eriksen and Casemiro played 9 matches as the central midfield pairing and lost just two, winning 6 of the matches. With Mount gone, Eriksen can easily fit into the team, replicating the Englishman’s creativity.
However, at 31 years of age, the Dane does not have the legs anymore to run across the pitch. In the previous two games, Casemiro was exposed as he was left alone often in the middle of the pitch, and with Eriksen going forward, it is highly likely that Casemiro will be alone in the middle once again during the opposition’s counterattack.
#2- Scott McTominay joins Casemiro in the middle
Another option for Ten Hag is to deploy McTominay in the middle of the park, accompanying Casemiro. McTominay, who has fallen out of the ranks under Ten Hag following the signing of Casemiro, will be eager to take up an opportunity to utilize Mount’s injury layoff to make an impression.
McTominay will provide the exact opposite of what Eriksen will. The Mancunian is defensively solid averaging over 3 clearances per game. Thanks to his height, he is also a good aerial threat in the opposition box. With the presence of McTominay and Casemiro, all hopes will be pinned on Fernandes in creating chances. However, due to a lack in any other creative outlet, Fernandes might be burdened with providing the same.
In the previous two games, it was seen that either Luke Shaw or Aaron Wan-Bissaka inclining towards the middle at the time of building from the back. In that case, McTominay can also slot in the middle of the defense, thus giving the fullbacks a bit of freedom to go forward.
However, it is highly unlikely that Ten Hag will give him a chance, as he was up for grabs in the transfer market. The 27-year-old also lacks good positional awareness and can be caught off guard, with Anthony Elanga and Morgan Gibbs-White’s pace being very dangerous at times.
Erik ten Hag’s men have just recorded three points from their opening two games. And an injury to their new No. 7 has put a dent in their confidence. Nottingham Forest have won their last game against Sheffield United and are in good form. Arsenal, on the other hand, who United face ahead of the international break, are currently third on the table.
Marcus Rashford has failed to make an impact playing up top and can be shifted to the left side of the pitch. Anthony Martial came on as a substitute and can start the matches against Forest and Arsenal. Rasmus Hojlund’s availability is still a doubt, so it is to be seen whether he makes the cut to be at least on the bench.
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