Chelsea V Man Utd In Pictures
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Long have Manchester United waited. It’s taken them years to get a proper defensive-midfielder in the door at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils previously squandering cash left, right and centre in the years since their last title triumph under Sir Alex Ferguson. In Casemiro, however, they have arguably the best in the business – as their 1-1 draw with Chelsea proved.
Manchester United’s match with Chelsea wasn’t exactly a cracker. Indeed, the action only really got going towards the end of the contest at Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho looked to have won the game for the Blues, with the Italy international converting a penalty following a foul from Scott McTominay inside the box.
But Casemiro, the man of the hour, rose high to head home past Kepa and send the away fans wild – with the Samba star celebrating his first goal in red and white colours with enthusiasm.
United have had to be patient to see the best from the 30-year-old, who was signed from Real Madrid as an alternative to Frenkie de Jong back in the summer transfer window.
Initially, he was behind McTominay in the pecking order. Something that, following the draw with Chelsea, now seems inconcievable.
Slowly but surely, however, the Brazil international has started to adjust to life in the Premier League. He was good against Everton, solid against Newcastle and outstanding in the 2-0 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Yet this was arguably his best showing of the lot, with Casemiro putting in a fine performance that ticked every box.
He completed 83 per cent of his passes, managing 68 touches in the process, and made 10 ball recoveries during a gladitorial display in the heat of the battle.
And he won 80 per cent of his ground duels, too, with those stats suggesting United have their own version of Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante – except their one can stay fit.
Certainly, after just six appearances, Casemiro has shown why he should have been pursued years ago – when he was still wearing the famous white shirt of Real Madrid.
And he’s already produced better performances than three of the players United have signed in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, which bodes well.
Back in 2015, many thought the Red Devils were onto a winner when they landed Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Southampton and Bayern Munich respectively.
Schneiderlin had been outstanding during his spell at St Mary’s and, prior to his arrival at Old Trafford, had been a transfer target for two of United’s rivals in Arsenal and Tottenham.
Schweinsteiger, on the other hand, had established himself as a great of the game during a glittering and trophy-laden spell at Bayern Munich.
Initially, the pair seemed good recruits – with Louis van Gaal believing he possessed a partnership that could bring the glory days rolling back.
But neither was to last at Old Trafford before the duo were sent packing to Everton and Chicago Fire. Without meaning to disrespect either side, it was a substantial step down.
Paul Pogba isn’t a total flop because he won trophies with the club, playing a starring role as they claimed the Carabao Cup and Europa League titles under Jose Mourinho in 2017.
Yet there’s still no sign Donny van de Beek will ever become the player United thought they were getting when he arrived from Ajax just over two years ago.
Yes, the Netherlands international is a different type of player to Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin. Yet he’s a midfielder nonetheless and, during his time at the club, has been more flop than hit.
Casemiro has already shown he’s got what it takes to become a United hero after just six matches.
The more he plays, the brighter the future can be.
Speaking in his press conference after the game, meanwhile, Ten Hag lauded his Samba star by saying: “That’s why we brought him in.
“We know he’s capable of doing that. He proved it in Spain, he proved it in the Champions League, at the highest level, so he could also do it in the Premier League.
“It’s clear, the Premier League is a different league – especially with the intensity – so he needed a short period to adapt to that.
“Now from game to game you see him growing and you see how important he is for our game.
“He brings the composure, he brings the organisation and also even scores a goal. He brings a lot to the team.”
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