Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 31.
Player analysis - Christian Eriksen (MUN)
Getting on to the ball to dictate play, he averaged 99 passes per 90 minutes in that position for Man Utd.
Ten Hag is suddenly spoilt for choice in central midfield.
The Casemiro-Eriksen-Fernandes midfield axis appears to be his preferred option, so it will be fascinating to see if Ten Hag immediately turns to that for this key fixture.
Below is Fernandes’ touch map from the match with Forest on December 27, when Casemiro and Eriksen occupied deeper positions.
The bulk of his involvements in that 3-0 success were in advanced areas and he got into the box on numerous occasions.
Last time out against Everton, Fernandes still got forward but spent a lot of time in possession just in front of Man Utd’s back four.
Here is his touch map for the 77 minutes prior to Eriksen’s arrival, which saw him moved forward.
Despite only starting 18 Premier League matches this season, Eriksen leads the way for assists, with seven.
He adds control and composure to the side when he features, but also unpredictable movement.
Eriksen creates unusual angles with his distribution, that gives United a better opportunity to unlock defences. The Dane has created goals by popping up down the left and right, as well as making telling central runs into the final third.
Two of his assists also came from outstanding set-piece deliveries.
Man Utd best mins/assists 2022/23
|Assists||Mins per assist|
Eriksen’s guile does make him their most likely goal provider.
Despite spending much of this season performing in an orthodox central midfield role, he delivers assists at around double the rate of Fernandes on a minutes-per-assist basis.
His invention and eye for a pass could certainly benefit the fit-again Anthony Martial, who is expected to start against Forest.
Man Utd coped well in the absence of Eriksen, who did not feature at all in February or March, but their record with him in their starting XI is stronger, as they score more goals and boast a higher win percentage too.
Man Utd when Eriksen starts/does not
|Eriksen starts||Eriksen doesn't start|
While it may not be ideal for Ten Hag to change a winning side, the prospect of getting Eriksen back into the team will be a strong temptation.