Manchester United reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League after securing a 1-0 win on the night and a 5-1 victory on aggregate over La Liga high-flyers Real Betis on Thursday.
Now the focus will shift to the FA Cup quarterfinals on Sunday and the Premier League fixtures coming up after the international break.
Erik ten Hag‘s side will have to contend with the absence of Casemiro, who is suspended for the next four domestic fixtures, despite the lack of quality options at his disposal.
United lack a calming presence in midfield
The only fit midfielders are the much-maligned pair of Fred and Scott McTominay and the recently injury-free Marcel Sabitzer. Games where Casemiro has not played in have all been characterised by a lack of control and a rather scattered approach.
Even when he is playing, United do not have a calming presence in midfield with Fred, Bruno Fernandes all looking to play Hollywood passes all the time without keeping control of proceedings.
United lack a midfield technician at the moment and it is clear to see why the former Ajax boss is keen to bring in Frenkie de Jong and players of a similar ilk as they have the technical nous to control the tempo of games.
That is why Christian Eriksen‘s return from injury is so highly anticipated. When he is around, he is a calming presence, someone who can keep the ball and play line-breaking short passes as well as accurate long balls.
It will be a huge boon if the Dane comes back during Casemiro’s enforced absence and the Dutch boss hinted at the same when he spoke to TV2 Sport after the Betis game.
“It is very positive. He healed very quickly. I don’t think he will be ready for Sunday (against Fulham in the FA Cup) but he will be ready in April. He is on his way back, and we are happy about that
“He is a class player that we need. I can’t wait for him to be back.” Initial scans had revealed that it would take him till May to reach full fitness so this is indeed a major bonus.
Eriksen’s comeback a huge bonus
The Denmark international was sidelined after Andy Carroll’s vicious challenge on him in the FA Cup back in January. He has been forced to miss 11 games for United.
The Reds have done well when Eriksen has been partnered with McTominay as the pair masterminded wins over Liverpool and Arsenal earlier in the season.
Eriksen could be back after the international break and that could be huge considering the Premier League games coming up against Newcastle, Brentford and Everton.
United need to keep winning if they are to preserve their top four status as they are only two and six points ahead of Tottenham and the Magpies respectively.
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