Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed this morning that Kagawa, Vidic, Anderson, Valencia, Nani and possibly Cleverley will be out of Sunday’s derby with Manchester City – so what could our starting line-up potentially look like?
Lindegaard is the more obvious choice for Sunday after playing consecutive games in the league recently. David de Gea didn’t have a chance to sufficiently impress in midweek in order to claim the jersey back for this derby.
Rafael da Silva
In this fixture last season, Sir Alex Ferguson chose Chris Smalling at right-back in order to protect Manchester United better aerially. However due to Rafael’s excellent form this season, he should get the nod versus City.
Ferdinand is the composure and experience in Manchester United’s backline, and a certainty to start on Sunday.
Evans has also been a regular this season, impressing for the most part. A poor performance last week was not ideal timing for the Northern Irishmen, but his overall performance level this season should guarantee him a place on Sunday.
The lack of alternative at left-back assures Patrice Evra of his place in the team in the Manchester derby. He will need to be at his best defensively and going forward to give Manchester United the edge.
Michael Carrick is the obvious choice to start in the defensive midfield position. He will need to provide extra support to the back four whilst also kick-starting counter-attacks.
After a rest in midweek, Fletcher will be in the running to start against City. With injuries to Shinji Kagawa, Anderson, and Tom Cleverley, Manchester United’s midfield options are limited, and Fletcher will add some positional security to the midfield.
Having been rested a lot recently, Scholes will be fresh for this game. He can offer a passing dimension to the midfield whilst being protected by the more defensively-minded Carrick and Fletcher.
Two matches in a row on the right-wing point to a start in that position for Rooney on Sunday. His recently improved delivery will be essential if Manchester United have limited opportunities.
The only fit natural wide men in the squad, Ashley Young is sure to start on the left-side. There is a likelihood that him and Rooney will interchange positions and cut inside to support van Persie when attacking. Their defensive work will also be essential in tracking City’s full-backs.
Robin van Persie
Van Persie is Manchester United’s most deadly goal-scorer this season, and it would be a shock to everyone if the world-class Dutchman didn’t start up front in the Manchester derby.
In the ‘big’ games this season Manchester United have tended to adopt one of two formations; the diamond (Newcastle away, in Europe), and 4-1-4-1 (against Chelsea and Arsenal). This would point towards one of these setups being used away to Manchester City on Sunday. My prediction is that Sir Alex Ferguson will opt for 4-1-4-1, a formation that would hypothetically defend against City’s marauding full-backs to greater effect than the diamond.