By Imran Kardar
Manchester United v Manchester City! The 170th time the city rivals face off against each other! Who will win it? Will we see another thriller at Old Trafford like we did a few years ago when in injury time Michael Owen scored the winner and Old Trafford erupted? Got to say I have NEVER heard the crowd at Old Trafford erupt like they did that day! Will City knick the game without some key players in Ageuro and Silva? Will Martial go on another Thierry Henry like run and score the winner? Will we see another red card? Or will Wayne Rooney come up with another moment of outrageous brilliance when he scored what was later voted to be the greatest goal in the Premier League history? So many questions, not many answers! Let’s get in to it!
It’s big game after big game in what has turned out to be a big month for Manchester United. And it doesn’t get any bigger than facing the city rivals, who sit at the top of the table. So there is extra incentive for United to knock them of their perch. Team selection will be important for this one and LVG has got some decisions to make. The easiest pick is DDG who will be entrusted with keeping the City attackers at bay. I would expect a few changes in the defense from the last game away to CSKA. Darmian should return to right back and will have a tough duel will Sterling. The centre back pairing should remain undisturbed with Smalling and Jones. At left back I expect Blind to start instead of Rojo who didn’t have a great game in Moscow in midweek.
Centre of the park should see Carrick come back in after missing out on a starting position in the last game and he should partner Schneiderlin. I sincerely hope that LVG doesn’t make the same mistake he made at the Emirates by starting Schweinsteiger and Carrick together. They were ripped apart by the pace and passing of Arsenal. City could easily do the same. You need the battler Schneiderlin in there.
The forward line is where LVG will have decisions to make. The biggest issue he is facing is the form of Wayne Rooney. It’ll take guts to drop the captain and that too a player of Rooney’s caliber but the Iron Tulip could easily make that decision. One can argue that form is temporary and class permanent and that Rooney should be kept in the starting lineup however there is a growing concern that the Boy Wonder is now at the end on a downward slope. Rooney turns 30 on Saturday and I don’t believe that he is past his best. I think that there is too much pressure on him to lead the line, be the main man and also the Captain. If some of that pressure is released we will again see the best of Wayne Rooney. So I will go with Martial, Herrera and Mata in behind Rooney leading the line. LVG could change this around a bit and play Fellaini in place of Herrera to give that extra height and physicality to the United attack. That could allow the players to fed of Fellaini’s knock downs and create space for the likes of Rooney, Martial and Mata to get in behind the City defense. We could even see Fellaini played as a striker and Rooney in the No.10 for this game. That formation could work for United. So LVG will keep us guessing till the last moment on the lineup.
Tactics will play a big role in this game and I expect the battle to be won in midfield. It looks more and more likely that Fellaini could start and made to do a job on Yaya Toure so that he doesn’t go on a rampage against United. United will also have to look after Sterling, who hit a hat-trick last weekend, and De Bruyne, who has been outstanding since returning to the EPL. I must say he has come in and settled in with effortless ease. Goes to show the quality the kid has. At the same time United will have to look to attack and win this game to get back top. Yes, LVG doesn’t want to lose this one but he wants to win it too.
Get ready football fans we are in for a cracker! I’m going with a United win, 2-0! GGMU!