Man Utd defensive injury crisis deepens ahead of Liverpool clash

Manchester United were left battered both mentally and physically after the 4-3 defeat to Chelsea on Thursday night.

Liverpool's opponents this Sunday were leading with the clock showing 99 minutes and 17 seconds — the latest point from which a Premier League team has ever conspired to lose a game.

Cole Palmer's hat-trick, including two in the final moments of stoppage time condemned Erik ten Hag's side to their 12th defeat of the 2023/24 season, leaving them down in sixth and a massive 22 points off the Reds who reclaimed top spot with the win over Sheffield United.

Adding injury to insult, the Red Devils also came away with renewed fitness concerns from the defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Ten Hag could even have a dearth of senior centre backs to choose from this weekend for the visit of Liverpool, with two of his defenders needing to be subbed on Thursday evening.

Raphael Varane was taken off at half-time, while his replacement Jonny Evans too was substituted 20 minutes before the end with an apparent issue.

Both players went into the game as fitness concerns and now look major doubts for participation this weekend.

The likes of Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are already definitively ruled out of the Liverpool clash, leaving a major shortage of options at the back.

One fit centre back

If Varane and Evans are ruled out, Harry Maguire will be Ten Hag's only fit senior centre-back, with 19-year-old Willy Kambwala, who has made just one start this season, likely to come in alongside him.

In another blow for the Red Devils, midfielder Casemiro was also withdrawn during Thursday night's defeat with a complaint.

Speaking after the game, Ten Hag appeared unsure on the status of the trio's injuries ahead of Sunday's showdown.

Erik Ten Hag

Premier League Liverpool v Manchester United, ManU Jürgen Klopp manager of Liverpool and Erik ten Hag manager of Manchester United shake hands before the game during the Premier League match Liverpool vs Manchester United at Anfield, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 17th December 2023 Photo by Mark Cosgrove/News Images Liverpool Anfield Merseyside United Kingdom Copyright: xMarkxCosgrove/NewsxImagesx

"That doesn't help in such moments if you have to manage the game, [it helps] that there are leaders on the pitch," he said in his post-match press conference.

"Also Casemiro we have to take off. That doesn't help.

"They know how to deal [with pressure] and how to bring the win over the line.

"I can't tell now what it is in prospect of Sunday but we have to take them both off."

United and Liverpool injury woes

Man Utd and Liverpool meet this weekend at Old Trafford in a repeat of last month's FA Cup quarter-final, which ended in a dramatic 4-3 defeat for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Now in the driving seat of the Premier League title race with eight games to go, Liverpool know they can ill afford a repeat of the mistakes that saw them throw away the lead against their rivals on 17 March.

They will go into the clash at Old Trafford favourites to avenge the recent result and will be boosted by the injury crisis unfolding at United.

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