Antonio Conte’s teams are usually defensively well-drilled and hard to beat. His Tottenham Hotspur side were third going into the contest against Manchester United on Wednesday.
Even the most optimistic of supporters could not have expected such a dominant performance from Erik ten Hag‘s side on the night. United had 28 shots on target and had 52 per cent of possession as they outclassed Spurs 2-0.
Prior to the game, there was a clamour for Ten Hag to drop Fernandes and Fred for their underwhelming performances recently as well as the lack of goals from midfield.
Casemiro’s game by numbers vs. Tottenham Hotspur:
85% pass accuracy
10 ball recoveries
4 ground duels won
3/4 long balls completed
Protected the back line brilliantly. 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/Skit2Lw18G
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 19, 2022
But the Dutch boss trusted his players to come good, and they did just that as their second-half goals proved to be the difference on the night.
While Fred’s overall contribution rightly took most of the plaudits, it was his midfield partner Casemiro who quietly went about his business which forced Spurs on the back-foot for the entire game.
Whenever there was a sniff of danger, the Brazilian was on hand to mop up and pass forward and that can be seen from the fact that the 30-year-old made 10 ball recoveries, which got United playing on the front foot.
Casemiro the star
He was strong in the tackle and won four ground duels and all his aerial duels. The former Sao Paulo star protected the back-line brilliantly, making two crucial interceptions and one clearance.
He is not just a glorified defensive midfielder, he can play and his stats speak for themselves. Casemiro’s passing was top-notch with the former Real Madrid star finishing the game with a passing accuracy of 85%, completing 49 passes.
Even more importantly, he made eight passes into the final third, which was the most of all players on the pitch. The Brazil international could have grabbed a goal as well but saw his rasping drive go inches wide.
It has not been an easy transition to life in the Premier League. His new manager took his time before throwing him into the deep end against Everton.
But since his full debut, Casemiro has hardly put a foot wrong. And Ten Hag was quick to praise his midfield general.
“Casemiro is now settled in, you see also him developing. You see why we signed him. He’s growing from game to game and you see how important a player like him is for the squad and it was a magnificent performance.
“This team, this club needed a player like him. He showed in the last games what he can do for the team,” Ten Hag said post match.
United are constantly being linked with midfielders like Frenkie de Jong and Jude Bellingham but for now, the United faithful can finally enjoy what it means to have a midfielder of such ilk grace the hallowed turf of Old Trafford.