Ten Hag says no Casemiro at Arsenal = no problem as he ‘has to criticise his team’ after Palace draw

Date published: Thursday 19th January 2023 6:55 - Jason Soutar

Erik ten Hag in the dugout before a game

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was left fuming after his side threw away the chance to go second in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.

The Red Devils were the better team as they drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace, going ahead shortly before half-time courtesy of a well-worked Bruno Fernandes goal.

Palace grabbed a draw thanks to a spectacular injury-time free-kick from Michael Olise, who did not celebrate what might be the best goal he will ever score.

Another bitter blow for United was the yellow card Casemiro picked up late on. The booking means he will miss Sunday’s huge clash at Arsenal.

Ten Hag is optimistic his team will be fine after they beat the Gunners without the Brazilian midfielder earlier this season.

“He’s a really important player for us and a reason we’re in this position,” Ten Hag told BBC Sport. “But last time we beat Arsenal without Casemiro. We need to do it again.

“We’re winning, controlling the game and an unlucky moment. We don’t have time to react. We have to take that and move on and make the best plan for Arsenal.”

Ten Hag admitted it was disappointing to drop points so late on, especially with United going second above Manchester City with a win.

“We dropped two points,” he said. “When you’re winning with two minutes to go…

“You [Palace] don’t create anything except one which was a corner and this one was a free-kick from far. You don’t expect to drop points. We have to invest more to get that second goal and then not be in that situation that a lucky moment costs you two points.

“We were 1-0 up. In the second half we had a lot of space to kill them and go for the second. I never saw we really went for the second goal.

“It’s difficult to say [why]. I have to criticise my team. Go for the second. Bruno and Rashy on the wings, Garnacho, a lot of creativity, speed and power, and McTominay with penetration behind.

“From my perspective [they should have had a penalty] but VAR and the referee make the decision. We have to accept it.”

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Ten Hag added to Sky Sports: “I think we controlled the game and scored a good goal. 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 2-0 it would be over.

“If you concede a goal one or two minutes before 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.”

On Wout Weghorst’s debut, the Dutch manager said: “I think he did quite well. 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.”

Red Devils captain and goalscorer Bruno Fernandes had this to say after his side’s winning run came to an end:

“We knew it’s tough to play here. We could have lost the game. We’re not happy with a draw. We should have taken our chances and closed the game. They scored a great goal at the end. Nothing we can do now.

“We have to look forward now. Other games are coming. We’re still doing good things.

“We’re really disappointed with the result but the next one is close. We have to prepare the game. Not too much time to recover.”

And goalkeeper David de Gea also believes it was two points dropped.

“We lost control of the game and then they start to create chances and they scored from the free kick,” he told Sky Sports.

“If we want to win in these games, we have to control them until the end. We dropped two points today.

“I was pleased with my save in the first half and I thought it was over me so I just touched it with my fingers and then we scored a few minutes later so it was good. The feeling at the end was not so good because we didn’t win.

“They scored the goal and in the end they deserved the point.”

The Spanish shot-stopper knows Casemiro will be a big miss and questioned why United had a midweek fixture when Arsenal did not. Clutching at straws, much?

“Big blow to lose Casemiro for Sunday,” De Gea said.

“I don’t get it why Arsenal don’t play as we have to play in the same week and they don’t. Now we are missing one of our best players. I don’t understand. Now we miss him for a big game and it is a big loss for us.”

De Gea did appreciate the performance from Weghorst, who was thrown straight into the starting XI.

He said: “He did really well. On set pieces he is a big lad, he helps us in both areas and I think it was a great debut.”

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