Paul Merson expects Marcel Sabitzer to start for Man Utd as they face Crystal Palace at the weekend after calling the midfielder a “panic buy”.
The Red Devils got the bad news earlier this week that Christian Eriksen will be missing until at least the end of April after picking up an injury in their 3-1 victory over Reading in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
Erik ten Hag played down their chances of bringing in a replacement before the transfer deadline but Man Utd moved quickly to secure the loan signing of Sabitzer from Bayern Munich until the end of the season.
Man Utd face Crystal Palace tomorrow in the Premier League without Eriksen and Merson reckons their match against the Eagles will demonstrate how well Sabitzer will cover for the Dane.
“Crystal Palace are a hard team to break down, and they’re going to set up to play counter-attacking football,” Merson told Sportsskeeda.
“Manchester United have had problems with breaking teams down in the past, and they changed when Christian Eriksen came in.
“When Eriksen starts for Man United, they control games. Eriksen is a player that you need to beat a team like Palace, and his absence will make a massive difference.
“They have brought Marcel Sabitzer in on loan from Bayern Munich, but is he what they really wanted? He wasn’t on the radar in the first place, and it looks like a panic buy.
“I couldn’t think of a better game to judge how much Eriksen could be missed. If you’re bringing reinforcements in from Bayern, you’re surely thinking of playing him.
“Man United aren’t playing one of the big boys, and they should be able to dominate this game. I think Manchester United are going to win this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they dropped points against Palace.”
Merson has already criticised Man Utd for going after Sabitzer on deadline day with the Arsenal legend doubting the Austria international has the required ability to fill in at Old Trafford,
But Rio Ferdinand hit out at Merson’s comments and doubts the former Arsenal midfielder has ever seen Sabitzer play a game of football.
“I am absolutely delighted with it,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube channel. “If I was trying to get a short-term replacement for Eriksen at the drop of a hat, Sabitzer is the player I would get.
“I watched a hell of a lot of this player when he was at RB Leipzig and he was sensational. He was integral to everything they did.
“Yes he’s gone to Bayern and hasn’t tore it up there or become a regular but the players he’s behind are big, household names.
“He will be a really good signing for Man United. He’s an experienced player who has played in big games, Champions League games.
“For me, those comments [from Paul Merson] stink of someone who hasn’t seen him play and who wouldn’t know who he is or if he’s left or right-footed because you can’t say it’s a bad signing.
“This guys knows how to play football. You don’t get signed by Bayern Munich if you’re a chump. He’s a really, really good footballer. Manchester United couldn’t have done any better, I don’t think.”
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