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Battle of the star galacticos

derby-day-scarvesThe usual format for an article is to open with a witty introduction filled with crudely constructed similes and metaphors designed to distract the reader from what is unlikely to be the most interesting piece of sports journalism they will read this week. Sunday’s match needs no introduction. This derby is massive.

Seven days ago United fans would have dismissed tomorrow’s match at the Etihad as three points dropped and would have liked to just get it out the way while keeping the score down. After last weekend’s last gasp goal against Chelsea there is a feeling of optimism amongst United fans, which after the Moyes era has left United fans feeling confused and uneasy.

Not since Sir Alex Ferguson graced Old Trafford’s touch line with his presence have United fans seen a performance against a team in the top four like they did last weekend. Robin Van Persie’s final minute strike sent the stadium into an explosion of euphoria, scenes reminiscent of those United fans, that prior to last season, had grown accustomed to over the last 27 years.

Tomorrow the red half of Manchester will be hoping for a similar performance and an attempt at restoring the balance of power.

UNITED TEAM NEWS

The big news for United fans is that Wayne Rooney will return from suspension and Van Gaal has confirmed he will start tomorrow afternoon. Though he is a player that can frustrate and comes across more money grabbing than anyone willing to have relations with Jeremy Clarkson, his presence has been missed and will be a big boost for the team.

Other than that it should be a similar team as to last week, with Falcao still injured but no new injuries it is likely Van Gaal will play the personnel who were so impressive last weekend. Though he may choose to sacrifice an attacking option to win the midfield battle, he might just as likely decide to out score City rather than outlast them defensively.

CITY TEAM NEWS

The relief among United fans that David Silva is out for tomorrow’s game, is still washing over many this morning and has renewed the belief among reds.

Unfortunately both Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are fit and have both scored 4 in their last 5 games against United. Vincent Kompany and Angel Di Maria’s international teammate Pablo Zabaleta will return to the city side and although neither have been in good form this season, everyone knows that when it comes to the derby, there is little as irrelevant as form.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The honest truth is United have not been better than City in the derbies for a while. Even when the reds have been winning titles, City have upped their game and outplayed United. Winning five in the last six, the bragging rights have well and truly belonged to City.

If the sky blues win tomorrow they will take their run to four successive victories against United for the first time since December 1970. On behalf of United fans please don’t let Nial Quinn repeat that statistic with a smug look on his unnaturally pointed face.

KEY MENRobin van Persie, Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie will have to be on song for United. The Dutch striker looked something like back to his best last weekend and his celebration would suggest he knows just how much he needed that goal.

United have missed the energy and work rate of Rooney, though he lacks the same level of creativity as Juan Mata, his desire and presence helps the team function at a more intensive level.

It’s a battle of two strikers tomorrow as the key men in blue will be Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. Aguero has been in destructive form this season and he and his strike partner love scoring goals against United. It is yet to be seen whether they will be able to operate as effectively without the supply of David Silva, but it is up to United to suffocate their impact.

Predicted Line-Up:
de Gea, Shaw, Rojo, Smalling, Rafael, Blind, Fellaini, Herrera, di Maria, Rooney, RVP.

William Dawson
@william__dawson