Manchester United cruised past Nottingham Forest with a 2-0 victory in their semifinal second leg encounter to reach the Carabao Cup finals.
Second-half goals from substitute Anthony Martial and Fred meant the Red Devils won 5-0 on aggregate and will now face Newcastle United at Wembley on February 26.
United came into the contest on the back of a commanding 3-0 win away at Forest and while many would have expected Erik ten Hag to make wholesale changes, the Dutchman stuck to his big guns.
Sancho returns as advanced playmaker
He did change a few players but it was a very strong squad which was partly necessitated by the Dutchman’s urge to avoid any sort of complacency and because of the lack of proper backup options.
After a lacklustre first-half where both teams failed to create too much, the Dutch boss went for the kill and brought on in-form Marcus Rashford and long-term absentee Jadon Sancho and Martial.
Interestingly, there were a few tweaks that the former Ajax coach made that might be employed in the days to come considering the number of games the team will have to play.
Sancho in the 10 position & Lindelöf being played as a DM. pic.twitter.com/3Vmvf3MMAj
— ًEl. (@UtdEIIis) February 1, 2023
Ten Hag had revealed in a recent press conference that due to injuries to the likes of Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek, he might have to get creative to plug those holes.
Bruno Fernandes has been an ever-present player in the starting line-up but he will require rest at some point and it was heartening to see Sancho play as the advanced playmaker with the Portuguese shunted out to the right flank.
Earlier in the season, Ten Hag had hinted at playing the English winger down the middle due to his pace, trickery and ability to find a killer ball or finish and it just might be the case going forward.
Lindelof introduced as defensive midfielder
Another interesting substitution and tactical tweak was Victor Lindelof‘s introduction in place of Casemiro. The Brazilian has arguably been United’s player of the season and his absence was keenly felt during the Arsenal game.
The former Real Madrid man does not have a like-for-like replacement and the Swede played as the deepest midfielder after coming on.
Lindelof certainly has the passing ability but whether he can manage physically and in terms of athleticism and pace remains to be seen.
But he could be an option that Ten Hag might use more of when United have taken a comfortable lead to allow Casemiro a breather.