Tempers will flare and temperatures will rise when Manchester United and Manchester City meet in The Manchester Derby with bragging rights and local pride at stake, we could brace ourselves for an eventful Sunday, to say the least.
Robin van Persie has resumed training, but the derby will come too early for the Dutchman. Luke Shaw is still out with a hamstring injury, while Chris Smalling is in line for a late fitness test. Jonny Evans will be unavailable through suspension.
The Citizens meanwhile are sweating on the fitness of influential captain Vincent Kompany. The Belgian suffered a hamstring injury in Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, and remains a doubt for Sunday’s showdown.
Ander Herrera vs Fernandinho
After being overlooked by Louis van Gaal at the start of the season, Ander Herrera has become an indispensable unit for Manchester United. The Spaniard’s goals and his eye for a killer pass, coupled with his industry and ability to knit things together means he is now one of the first names on the team sheet. Herrera’s telepathic combination with Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia could have Fernandinho in turmoil.
Sergio Agüero vs Marcos Rojo
Perhaps United’s only worry, and City’s biggest threat, Sergio Agüero’s record against the Red Devils itself speaks volumes of the impact the Argentine can have on the fixture. His compatriot Marcos Rojo will have Agüero closely watched, with the former Atlético Madrid capable of having the final say.
Wayne Rooney vs Martín Demichelis
Be it the stupendous overhead kick in the 2-1 win four years ago, or the sublime free kick in the 4-1 defeat last season, Wayne Rooney scoring in the derby has become an inevitability. And with Kompany out, Rooney will be licking his lips at the prospect of playing against a stuttering City defence.
– Manchester United have lost their last four league matches against Manchester City; they have never lost five in a row against any club.
– Sergio Aguero has scored four goals in his last three Barclays Premier League matches against Man Utd.
– Only three of Wayne Rooney’s eight BPL goals against Man City have come at Old Trafford. Indeed, his last three against the Citizens arrived at the Etihad.
– No City manager has lost four successive Barclays Premier League away matches since Stuart Pearce in September 2006.
Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal meanwhile has talked of his dream of giving the fans a derby win.
“Of course I dream of it – every player shall dream of it.”
The Dutchman also was confident about his side, and opined in stark contrast to the English philosophy of ‘never change a winning team’.
‘Never change a winning team’ is an English expression, but I always have my eyes open. You must see the quality of your opponent and make a decision with the staff, so it’s not always [about] never changing the team. I’m always confident because I believe in my team.”
A poor run of form has seen the Citizens slip down to the fourth spot, but manager Manuel Pellegrini believes there is a lot of time for both sides to change their fortunes, citing the derby as a potential spring board for his side.
“It (the derby) gives the game an extra boost – I hope that not only the intensity is high but the quality too – for the fans.”
“It’s an important game as we’re close in the table but I don’t think the season is finished for either side after.”
Despite van Gaal’s claims against continuing with a ‘winning side’, the Red Devil’s will line-up unchanged
Milner might replace the ineffective Jesus Navas, with Zabaleta coming in for Sagna.
Expect Manchester United to edge this by a one goal margin. City’s current form doesn’t help their cause, and United’s resurgence of late could give them their first derby win since 2013.
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