Erik ten Hag refuses to stick boot into Casemiro as Man Utd suffer ultimate Arsenal blow | Football | Sport
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag refused to blame Casemiro for his yellow card in Wednesday’s draw against Crystal Palace that will see him miss Sunday’s crucial meeting with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The Red Devils went into the fixture at Selhurst Park on a run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions but were denied an eighth by Michael Olise’s stunning free-kick with just minutes left to play at the end of the second half.
United drew first blood through Bruno Fernandes as half-time approached, with the Portuguese midfielder finishing off a sweeping team move with a clever finish from inside the area to give the visitors the lead. They managed to hold on for the vast majority of the second half before the equaliser came through Olise, who managed to beat David de Gea with a pinpoint free kick that bounced over the line via the crossbar in stoppage time.
However, the biggest talking point from United’s point of view was the booking that Casemiro received for a full-blooded challenge on Wilfried Zaha as the clock ticked down. It means that he will miss Sunday’s game against Premier League leaders Arsenal in a major blow to United’s hopes of winning in north London, although Ten Hag was hesitant to blame the Brazilian midfielder when quizzed on the incident after the full-time whistle.
“I think it’s instinctive, he went for the ball,” the Dutchman told Sky Sports. “It’s quite clear it was also a situation of what could have been. He wanted to stop it and that was his reaction. As I said, we have to impress more for the second goal. Last time we beat Arsenal without Casemiro, so this time we have to do the same.”
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Ten Hag went on to run the rule over United’s performance against Palace by insisting that it could have been better in the second half, with the Red Devils ultimately being forced to pay the price for failing to make the most of their dominance by striking the killer blow.
“I think we controlled the game and scored a good goal,” added the United boss. “I wouldn’t say a top, top performance but it was OK. We had control of the game. We had to invest more in the second, at two [goals] it would be over.
“If you concede a goal one or two minutes before [the final whistle] it’s difficult to react, although we had a chance with Casemiro. We have to take the lesson and invest more for the second goal.”
Wednesday’s match against Palace also saw Wout Weghorst make his Premier League debut for United after joining the club on loan from Burnley earlier this month. The towering Dutch forward was picked to start at the tip of United’s attacking trident and managed to hold the ball up well before he was replaced by Scott McTominay with just over 20 minutes remaining at Selhurst Park.
“I think he did quite well,” said Ten Hag when quizzed on Weghorst’s first showing in a United shirt. “He has to make adjustments to our game. He doesn’t know our way of play, he only had a short briefing and last training, no games, a couple of days.”
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