Manchester United fans thinks they’ve found the answer to Casemiro’s suspension, with the game against Premier League leaders Arsenal at the weekend.
It’s not often that dropping two points to a bottom half of the table club thanks to a last minute goal is arguably the second worst thing that’s happened on the pitch, but it’s certainly an argument United could have made on Wednesday night.
Ten Hag knew ahead of the game that a yellow for Casemiro would have been his fifth of the season in the league, and would thus rule him out for Sunday.
It all seemed to be going well, until the 80th minute. Fred was readying himself to come on for his fellow countryman, when the former Real Madrid star dived into a challenge on Wilfried Zaha, and was potentially lucky the card was only yellow.
His decision to go for the challenge was especially silly with Raphael Varane behind him primed to tackle Zaha and Steve McClaren’s reaction on the bench said it all.
With United now down their defensive midfielder against the Gunners, Ten Hag will need to come up with a plan, and the fans have one he can borrow.
They took to social media to say that Lisandro Martinez could play in the position, with the phrase ‘Martinez CDM’ trending on Twitter.
Casemiro gets his booking. Image: Alamy”Get Martinez on the Red Bulls and put him in CDM on Sunday, he’ll send Thomas Partey into row Z,” one fan said, of the battle with Arsenal’s own defensive midfielder who is on brilliant form.
“Luke Shaw CB and Martinez CDM against Arsenal. I think we have a chance,” another added.
A third elaborated on the thinking behind the move, saying the World Cup winner had the passing range needed in the position, “Start Martinez at cdm against Arsenal. His passing is good too.”
Summing up why there was a need for him to play there, a fourth opined, “Do you play Martinez at CDM now against Arsenal? I really don’t trust Scott McTominay to do it.”
And another agreed, continuing, “Martinez should play CDM on Sunday, we’ve got absolutely no chance if McTominay starts there. Martinez at CDM, Shaw at CB & Malacia at LB, gotta be that.”
Could Martinez play defensive midfield against Arsenal? Image: AlamyThe Argentina defender has played in midfield previously for Ajax but it was a number of years ago, and Ten Hag’s previous comments suggest it won’t happen.
Speaking to ESPN back in July 2021, then in the Eredivisie, the manager said, “Daley Blind does not have the running capacity to play in midfield. And neither does Martinez.”
Obviously the question that need answering about who plays instead of Casemiro on Sunday is a big one, but also what needs addressing is just who will get a selfie with a pitch invader without the Brazilian on the pitch.