Opinion: Who will play in midfield against Sevilla?
Manchester United’s midfield options are looking healthy, just as our season run-in is set to intensify with the return to European competition later this week.
The Reds have taken six points from a possible nine in our three consecutive Premier League games following the international break over the last seven days, but our next three outings in domestic league action will be interspersed by cup commitments on two fronts.
Immediately on the agenda in that sense is the visit of Sevilla to Old Trafford on Thursday in the first leg of our Europa League quarter-final.
With our schedule only becoming more packed as the campaign approaches its conclusion, Erik ten Hag will be grateful to have something of a selection dilemma on his hands, such are the options he now has at his disposal in the middle of the park.
As some Reds hit their stride and others return from injury and suspension, let’s take a look at who could start in our midfield against Sevilla…
The scorer of the opening goal in our latest win against Everton, McTominay put in a another eye-catching display against the Toffees.
United were rampant in our desire to win the ball back and apply pressure to the visitors’ defence, and there are few players who better exemplify that all-action, high-energy style than McTominay.
The Scot also impressed against Brentford in midweek, and he’s shown himself to be a strong contender to play across all areas of midfield – with his strike against Everton and recent goalscoring exploits on international duty a reminder of his prowess in front of goal.
Sabitzer now has four consecutive starts to his name for the Reds and appears to be growing in confidence.
He’s another member of our midfield department who is more than adept across multiple central roles, whether that’s applying his persistent style in deeper areas or in a more advanced position, where he has thrived in the last week.
Sabitzer also provides quality from set-pieces – scoring direct from a free-kick for Austria last month – and plenty of experience on the European front from his time with RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich.
We seldom see Fernandes available for selection and not in the United line-up; it’s more so where he has been deployed by Ten Hag that has caught the eye of late.
The Portuguese has had the platform to demonstrate his magnificent playmaking qualities in a deeper position in recent matches, and won our Man-of-the-Match award after pulling he strings expertly against the Toffees on Saturday.
While the boss explained in his post-match press conference that Bruno’s positional switch has been a result of seeking to make up for some of his team-mates being unavailable, he also spoke of our no.8 playing some "brilliant" games in that role.
It may be that Fernandes reverts to a more familiar advanced role against Sevilla, but his audition in deeper positions might yet convince Ten Hag otherwise.
Fred has come off the bench in our last three games, but he has been an incredibly important part of our squad throughout the campaign, making 44 appearances across all competitions.
The Brazilian is an unrelenting figure in the engine room and is certainly a tempo-setter when it comes to recovering possession for his team-mates.
Our no.17 has loved an Old Trafford goal this term, too – all six of his strikes have come on home soil, and his equalising effort against Barcelona in an earlier Europa League knockout round provided us with arguably one of the moments of the season so far.
There's plenty of class in Christian's cameo
Christian Eriksen displayed his creativity and vision during a long-awaited return from injury on Saturday...
It was a brilliant sight to see Eriksen welcomed back to our side as he came off the bench in the closing stages of our win against Everton.
The Denmark international sustained an ankle injury in January’s FA Cup triumph over Reading, which kept him out of action for over two months. Such has been his quality this season, it was no surprise that Old Trafford rose to applaud Eriksen back onto the pitch yesterday.
Our no.14 showed plenty of class in his cameo from the bench too, and that can only be further encouragement for Ten Hag as Eriksen looks to further reintegrate himself into the side after his recovery from injury.
Our much-loved Brazilian would have come back into contention for this game anyway, but having now served his four-match domestic suspension, we may now be set to consistently see Casemiro at the heart of our midfield again between now and the end of the season.
The no.18 has been a revelation in our engine room since his arrival from Real Madrid last summer, both in the sense of providing cover for our defensive line with his ability to recover the ball, as well as his qualities to contribute to our attacking play.
Of course, there are few more experienced customers than Casemiro, with his importance to Real Madrid’s five Champions League title successes well-documented. Ten Hag will be keen to call upon his European knowhow as we seek continental success of our own.
The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.