19 January 2023

An awesome power I swear only to use for good...

Okay. I'll admit it. I'm a little bit awestruck at the massive power I have apparently summoned in the last 24 hours. It started as a lark, little more than a piss-take, in which I encouraged referee Robert Jones to book Casemiro and Fred during the Crystal Palace match so as to trigger that fifth-yellow one-match ban, to be served during Man U's trip to the Emirates on Sunday. While I didn't get everything I asked for, I did get the better half, and that has shaken me to the core. After all, did I not possess this power all along? I must have. The only alternative is that the bout of COVID I picked up on Monday imbued me, not just with great fatigue but with great power. However, I haven't heard of any other similar cases, which leaves me to believe that this nascent power has always resided deep within the nether regions of my soul, and it has decided to manifest now.

I understand of course the terrible and awful responsibility that comes with this power. I should only use it for good, and not for evil, much as I did when I conjured up this yellow card for Casemiro. I must still be learning how to harness this power, for Fred emerged unscathed from the seething cauldron that is my wrath.

Okay, I don't know about you, but I've had enough of that folderol.

This yellow-card situation is probably about the best we could have hoped for. Without Casemiro, Ten Hag will have to rely on a midfield of Fred and McTominay. McTominay is but a poor-man's Fellaini. perfectly of clattering his opponents, but there's not much else he does well. More importantly, Casemiro's absence will de-fang the tactics that Ten Hag deployed to such great success against Man City, namely, having Fred man-mark de Bruyne. Fred was tireless as he harassed the Belgian, and this in turn denied Haaland as many chances as he's come to expect. Without Casemiro to dominate the midfield, it's unlikely that Ten Hag can devote one player to marking Ødegaard as doggedly and persistently while expecting McSauce (an actual nickname they've bestowed on him. I suspect it's ironic) to control the middle of the pitch on his own. We'll have to wait and see how Ten Hag tinkers with his lineup now.

One has to question why he played both Fred and Casemiro knowing each was on four yellow cards. Casemiro's now earned three yellow cards in his last four Prem matches. It's almost as if he wanted to avoid facing us. Maybe there's some bizarre logic to it. After the match, Ten Hag pointed out that they "beat Arsenal with Casemiro" and will have do it again, as if it's Casemiro's absence and not a wrongly disallowed goal that allowed Man U to escape. 

Of course, it just wouldn't be Man U without a wounded sense of self-indulgence. David de Gea, who was well and truly beaten by a superb Olise free kick to save a draw for Palace, said, "one of our best players cannot play one of the best teams. I don't understand why we had to play today, and [Arsenal] didn't." It's irrelevant whether we played today; this would have had no bearing on Casemiro getting booked except by some very large extrapolation of the butterfly effect. De Gea's real beef should be with his manager, who decided to play that player against a side that had won just once in their previous seven. If de Gea wants to sniffle and whinge and moan, he should first make sure that Bruno Fernandes is minds de Gea biting his routine. 

Of course, we still have to go out and play the match. Casemiro or not, we have to know that Man U have improved almost as dramatically as we have since the reverse fixture back in September. Between now and Sunday, maybe I'll learn more about those newfound powers I was banging on about at the start. If so, I promise to put them to good use.

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