The much awaited Manchester derby is finally here. With changes to the managerial hot seats at both the clubs, it’ll be interesting to see how Manuel Pelligrini and David Moyes approach their first Manchester Derby.
Manchester United is coming off from a fairly strong performance against Bayer Leverkusen in midweek’s game. The due credit must go to David Moyes for implementing the much
needed changes in the United midfield. Managing his first Champions League game, Moyes sent out an attacking side that was a constant threat to the German club’s goal and that showed solidity for most parts whenever Leverkusen attacked. United had looked non-threatening in the previous few games but the changes brought for the Leverkusen game brought a breath of fresh air to the United offense. A major factor towards that has been the resurgence of Wayne Rooney.
After making a comeback against Crystal Palace, Rooney looked in sublime touch and took the Leverkusen defense for a ride. Playing just off Van Persie in the number 9 position, Rooney connected well with the central midfielders and the wide men and even excelled in one-on-one situations, something that was lacking in his game in the previous seasons. His performances have been well appreciated by experts and colleagues at United.
But the person whose words would have instilled further confidence in Rooney would be Sir Alex Ferguson. Believed to have had fallout with the player, Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for his ex-player. Speaking to journalist, Ferguson said: “Wayne’s performance was fantastic; I was pleased to see that. He’s got his energy back, his determination to attack players. It was all very encouraging for me. Being a director I am delighted to see that. He’s back to what we always remember him as.”
Rooney’s game play and energy was fantastic and it drew attention away from other attackers, allowing more space to the likes of Valencia to operate. United’s fourth goal was a classic display of that and reminded everyone of the counter-attacking football we witnessed under Sir Alex’s teams and the team will have to replicate some of that against City on Sunday.
With Van Persie and Rooney starting to form a lethal partnership, the challenge for Moyes lies in selecting his wingers. Antonio Valencia has had a much improved start to the season compared to the previous one and he may end up retaining his spot in the starting XI. Shinji Kagawa enjoyed a decent spell against Leverkusen but the man who can make a real difference against City is Nani. His threatening pace and dribbling abilities should keep Manchester City’s brilliant right-back Pablo Zabaleta on his toes. Keeping Zabaleta pinned in City’s half should be helpful for Patrice Evra who may find it difficult to match Jesus Navas’s pace on the left side.
However, two key players for City in this fixture will be the central midfielder Yaya Toure and the playmaker David Silva. Manchester United has found it difficult to contain the big midfielder on most occasions but they would be relieved to have Fellaini on their side of the pitch. The feisty Belgian will be expected to battle the Ivorian mid and neutralize Toure’s excellent ball distribution skills to his forwards. Not to forget Fellaini’s utility during set-pieces, he could pose a real threat to City and is a huge asset for United in this fixture.
United has done well over the years in defusing the threat of opposition play-makers in key Premier League and European games. David Silva will require special attention and David Moyes could deploy Michael Carrick very close to the Spanish midfielder. Carrick, whose job will not only be to make Silva work hard to make plays, will be United’s most important player. The precise passes to the attacking triplet of Rooney, Nani and Valencia will allow United to break quickly, thereby creating numerous chances for United.
Jones Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Valencia Rooney Nani
Both managers, having already suffered one league defeat each in this campaign, would not want to lose another three points in the first five games and fall further behind the league leaders. Hence, it is difficult to see either of the teams over-committing their men forward and this game has a draw written all over it.
Prediction: Manchester City 0 Manchester United 0