Manchester United midfielder Casemiro will be suspended for Sunday’s match at leaders Arsenal – and boss Erik ten Hag was trying to look for the positives.
“Last time we beat them without Casemiro, now we have to do the same,” he said.
The Gunners, eight points clear, have lost only once in the Premier League – September’s 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Casemiro played the last 10 minutes of that game, but all the goals had been scored before he came on.
However, he will not be on the pitch at Emirates Stadium after he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season during his side’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
United were 1-0 ahead when Casemiro was cautioned for a late lunge on Eagles forward Wilfried Zaha in the 80th minute.
And the visitors’ evening got even worse as Michael Olise equalised with a wonderful free-kick in injury time to ensure United, looking to become champions for the first time since 2012-13, dropped two points.
United have lost only once in 20 matches in all competitions and are third, level on points with Manchester City, and eight points behind Arsenal.
But 30-year-old Brazil defensive midfielder Casemiro has played a vital role in United’s resurgence since his £70m move from Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League five times.
“He’s a really important player for us and a reason we’re in this position,” said Ten Hag.
“We were winning, controlling the game and an unlucky moment. We have to take that and move on and make the best plan for Arsenal.”
United goalkeeper David de Gea made two vital saves to deny Odsonne Edouard and Marc Guehi, but was unable to stop Olise’s stunning 25-yard free-kick, which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
“If we want to win in these games, we have to control them until the end – we dropped two points,” said De Gea.
“I was pleased with my save in the first half [tipping Edouard’s shot on to the crossbar] but the feeling at the end was not so good because we didn’t win.
“It’s a big blow to lose Casemiro for Sunday. Now we are missing one of our best players for a big game and it is a big loss for us.”