The 165th edition of the Manchester derby will be contested this weekend when Manchester United welcome fierce rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford on Sunday and it goes without saying that the match holds a lot of importance in terms of the league table as well as pride within the city.
Things have turned around quite dramatically for Manchester United over the past few months and following their recent five match winning run, the Red Devils have moved into 3rd place in the Premier League table – all but sealing their place in the top four.
As a testament to their rise, United have leapfrogged above rivals Manchester City in the standings and strange as it might have seemed a few weeks ago, it has to be said that the Red Devils are slight favourites heading into the Manchester derby.
Nonetheless, the form book does go out of the window when these two teams square off against each other and while it is almost impossible to predict which side will come out on top, one can be sure that the match will be an entertaining affair.
Here is the Strongest Possible Lineup for Manchester United on the day –
David de Gea was once again virtually a spectator during Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa during the week but when the Spaniard was called upon, he did not cover himself in glory after allowing Christian Benteke’s weak effort to squirm through his body.
De Gea most certainly cannot afford to go through such lapses in concentration against Manchester City this weekend and he will have to play extremely well in order for the Red Devils to end their terrible run against the enemy.
With Chris Smalling a doubt ahead of the clash while Jonny Evans still suspended, there is a strong possibility that Louis van Gaal will decide to go with an unchanged back four against City.
This means that the impressive duo of Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind should continue in the full back positions while the central defensive area will be occupied by Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
If Smalling makes a recovery, Rojo is the most likely player to drop out while Rafael and Luke Shaw remain options for van Gaal to choose from as well.
The Manchester United midfield was fantastic once again in the victory over Aston Villa and it is very likely that van Gaal will be reluctant to change what has been a winning combination.
Therefore, the duo of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick look certain inclusions in the starting eleven while Marouane Fellaini has been labeled as ‘undroppable’ by van Gaal. In the wide areas, the duo of Juan Mata and Ashley Young have been in fantastic form and should retain their place from the start.
Superstar Angel Di Maria has been forced to watch from the sidelines during the last few weeks and it is very unlikely that the Argentine international will be reinstated into the starting eleven as United have been playing so well without him in the team.
Nonetheless, one should expect Di Maria to make an appearance from the bench if things are not going according to plan for United.
Despite declaring himself fit for the Manchester derby, Robin van Persie has been ruled out by manager van Gaal and the continued absence of the Dutch striker means that Wayne Rooney will be starting as the lone man up front for the Red Devils.
Rooney scored a magnificent goal in the victory over Aston Villa and he will surely be raring to build on his fantastic record against City. Radamel Falcao has featured sparingly over the last few weeks and is likely to start from the bench once again.
Via – Lineup Builder