Manchester United are currently on a nine-game unbeaten run and they will be hoping to continue in the same vein when they take on Aston Villa on Sunday.
Villa will be buoyed by the arrival of their new boss, Unai Emery, and the West Midlands club will be hoping to harness the rebound from the new manager.
For Erik ten Hag, the match will be further complicated by the absence of the ever-present Bruno Fernandes through suspension.
The Portuguese has started all the games so far this season and has scored two goals and one assist in the league. It will not be easy to replace him due to the lack of direct replacements.
Fred has been tested there in one game but failed miserably and is much better prepared to play further back. The closest player in terms of profile is Donny van de Beek, who recently returned from injury.
The Dutch midfielder made a cameo appearance against Sheriff Tiraspol last week before playing 58 minutes against Real Sociedad.
The Dutch coach was asked about Fernandes’ absence and how he planned to deal with it for Sunday’s game.
“We know that we have to replace Bruno, that is quite clear. We have to see how we replace him, and we have to think about that”, he said during the pre-match press conference.
🗣 Erik ten Hag asked for Donny van de Beek and he agreed if it doesn’t work out for the midfielder at #mufc.
🎥 @rxnpixels pic.twitter.com/3BLbrPOfcV
— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) November 4, 2022
Van De Beek has failed to reach the heights expected of him since his arrival. He was a star at Ajax, but has failed to shine in Manchester.
Former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not trust the 25-year-old, while caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick had opted to send him to Everton on loan.
The midfielder was expected to finally get his chance with his former Ajax boss, but that has yet to materialize.
Van De Beek has had just one solitary start in the Europa League while playing a total of 19 minutes in the Premier League.
Can Donny stake his claim?
Asked if there comes a point where United have to accept that it didn’t work out under Van de Beek, Ten Hag replied: “Yes, but that can’t be now.
“Because he had a pretty good pre-season, he got injured, now he’s back, last week he came (against FC Sheriff) and I think he played really well, 50 minutes, and I think today was a decent performance.”
Injuries have not helped his cause either and the manager noted there is still a chance the Dutch international could come in handy in United colours.
“I know he can do better because I know him very well, but he delivered what I expected in terms of positioning and also pressing, in terms of transition. But I think he can do more and that’s the biggest quality of him: he can be more of a threat to an opponent’s goal.
“I don’t know (why he has had problems). I can only speak of my time here. In my time here, she is performing well in the playing time that we gave her.”
Fernandes isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders and with the Carabao Cup tie against the same opposition to follow, this could finally be Van De Beek’s chance to impress.
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