The Manchester Derby awaits to see which side of Manchester comes out on top where both teams have struggled lately for results.
Van Gaal’s Manchester United exited the Europa League in the hands of arch English rivals Liverpool on Thursday and this fixture comes at a time where United really need to gather momentum to pick up results if they want to play in UEFA Champions League next season. In the blue half of the city, Pellegrini has seen his side drawn against PSG in the quarter-finals of the Champions League where he could possibly hope to win the competition in his last season in charge at the club.
Both sides are looking to challenge for top four places as there are nine games remaining of the season. In the case of the manager’s, it is confirmed Guardiola is going to replace Pellergrini and the future of Van Gaal still remains up in the thin air. It seems United have lost out on one of the experienced manager’s in attacking football where Guardiola has had plenty of success. For United fans, there is only one man currently available who would be able to improve performances and that is Jose Mourinho, he is proven in the Premier League as well as in Italy and Spain. Not to forget he has managed to win the Champions League twice.
United are currently sixth in the league four points behind City in fourth. A win at the Eithad Stadium will close the gap to a point and there are still some tricky fixtures remaining for Van Gaal’s team to overcome. The aim would be to be back in Europe’s elite club competition otherwise this season could be deemed as a failure which the Dutchman will not want. The Manchester derby gives his side a chance to redeem themselves from a disappointing result against Liverpool. The side need to bounce back to show their character and not allow anything get in their way from achieving top four finish.
Herrera is not available for Red Devil’s through a groin injury. Ashley Young and Bortwick-Jackson could be in contention after returning to training. Januzaj and Fosu-Mensah are available again. Valencia returned to action from the bench and gives an option to play on the right wing. Absent are Rooney, Shaw, Keane and Jones. City will be without captain Kompany who suffered a calf injury against Dynamo Kiev. Otamendi will be assessed before the game. De Bruyne, Delph and Nasri are still missing.
Kompany will be a huge loss to City as he has been so instrumental at the back in terms of last ditch tackles and his physical battle against attackers. Mangala looks like to replace and possibly be partnered by Demichelis in defence. Everyone knows Aguero is the danger man when it comes to scoring goals so Smalling and Blind will need to be on alert at all times. It will be hard for United to break down City as they have midfielders who will protect the back four allowing their attackers to roam around. The magical players like David Silva can play in the passes and control the show. For United, they will need to make sure they can get Martial or Rashford chances through the width. With Valencia available, he could feature on the right wing and go against the full back but Darmian could play as left back if Rojo is not available so Valencia may have to start as right back.
Fellaini in midfield has not proven to be a success. He seems lost on the field and I believe he has not yet settled at United and the expectations of the club has not suited him. Although, the tactics have not been right to use him effectively in attack by supporting the striker in the box. The players are coming back from injury so Van Gaal can rotate the team around. He needs to use players who are on form as that is when players are enjoying themselves. It is frustrating to see Memphis sit on the bench when a lot money has been spent in the transfer window. This will be a question for the board members to ask about the transfer policy on the players bought in especially with the current success Leicester City have shown in the Premier League.
Possible starting XI:
Man City; Hart, Sagna, Mangala, Otamendi, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Silva, Toure, Sterling, Aguero.
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Fellaini, Martial, Rashford.