Lack of ruthlessness meant Manchester United were held to a frustrating goalless draw against Newcastle United on Sunday at Old Trafford. This was United first draw of the campaign and they remain fifth in the table.
The absence of Christian Eriksen was keenly felt as United failed to create too many chances throughout the course of the game. Fred and substitute Marcus Rashford were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances towards the end of the contest.
The opposition is going to get harder this week with contests against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea lined up this week. Both teams are in the top-4 and United will need to win both if they are to keep pace with the pack ahead of them.
Suspension danger for United duo
Spurs will be up first and they will be a tough nut to crack as they have lost only once so far this season. Erik ten Hag will be hoping for a much improved display but will also be wary of one huge factor that might cost them going forward.
Diogo Dalot’s game by numbers vs. Newcastle United:
88% pass accuracy
15 final third passes
3/4 ground duels won
3 ball recoveries
3 tackles won
2 long balls completed
2 key passes
1/1 aerial duels won
Why didn’t he shoot? 😩 pic.twitter.com/iViq9lV5Vu
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 16, 2022
Against Newcastle, Ten Hag would have ideally liked to deploy Scott McTominay to change the course of the game just like he had done against Omonia in midweek but the Scot was suspended after having picked up five cautions so far.
Both have accumulated four yellow cards so far with Fernandes receiving his latest against Newcastle for a late foul on Bruno Guimaraes while Dalot’s last card was against City in the Manchester Derby.
Ten Hag will surely be letting them know of the situation while also reminding of their importance to the squad.
As of now, both players do not have a like-for-like replacement. Eriksen and Donny van de Beek are capable of playing the No 10 role but the Dutch boss prefers to use the Danish playmaker from deep and he would not like to change that.
Ten Hag’s latest worry
As for Van De Beek, even his former coach’s arrival has failed to improve his situation and he looks to be on his way out. He remains out injured and the busy October and November months were seen as the best time for him to stake his claim for a first-team spot.
Even Fred has been deployed there but he has failed to do even the basics properly. Youngsters like Zidane Iqbal are too raw to be thrown into the mix right from the start.
Dalot’s absence will be even more keenly felt. His replacement Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been missing for a long time now and it is just a matter of time before he is shown the exit door.
Ten Hag is not a big fan of his awkwardness with the ball and even used left-back Tyrell Malacia there for one half. He may be forced to do the same or deploy Victor Lindelof as a stop-gap if the need arises.
Both are not the same in terms of attacking and bombing forward so it is imperative for the Red Devils that both players do not receive any further cautions against Spurs.
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