Erik Ten Hag is asking for trouble if he starts Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes as his midfield against Arsenal.
Opponents have already found it too easy to play through Manchester United and if he sticks with that three against the Gunners, they will get done.
The injuries to Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw mean United’s defence will need even more protection. Ten Hag’s got to bring in someone like Scott McTominay to get the balance right. Or even new signing Sofyan Amrabat.
McTominay is brilliant defensively, he spots danger, he tracks runners, he’s not someone who Kai Havertz or Martin Odegaard will want hovering around them. He won’t let them off the hook.
Ten Hag is still building but I’m sure even he didn’t expect his defence to be so exposed.
Erik Ten Hag is asking for trouble if he starts Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes against Arsenal
Scott McTominay is brilliant defensively, he spots danger and he also tracks runners
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United’s problem is that against higher-quality opposition, they have too many attack-minded players and not enough for whom the dirty work comes naturally. They signed Mason Mount to bring more legs around Casemiro but now he’s injured.
Eriksen and Fernandes both want to create. Their first instinct is not to protect. The same goes for the wide men. Against Wolves, a game United should have lost, Alejandro Garnacho and Antony were poor defensively. The full-backs caused United problems.
Marcus Rashford solves that when he’s on the wing and Antony had more fire in his belly against Forest, but Ten Hag needs to be more pragmatic in midfield to help Casemiro. He’s struggled so far but I’m not concerned about him. He’s world-class, he transformed United last season and it’s not like his form has fallen off a cliff. He’s just had a slow start and his quality will come through.
I feel the same about Mikel Arteta. He’s being questioned about his tinkering.
I understand the debate. I’ve been surprised to see him break up the partnership of Ben White and Bukayo Saka down the right. I’ve been surprised to see Gabriel on the bench.
Fans supported Arteta through ‘the process’ and yet now some start to question it when that process continues to evolve. But that’s all he’s doing. He’s trying to make Arsenal better. He can’t play the same 11 and deploy the same tactics every week like we saw last season.
Although it was successful, ultimately they still fell short of Manchester City.Now he’s got different players and different expectations. So he’s trying different partnerships and ways of playing. Fans need to be patient and let Arteta keep trying to move Arsenal forward.
Casemiro has struggled so far this season but his quality will eventually come through
It has been surprising to see Mikel Arteta tweak with his system but it’s also understandable