I am a Red, but you have to be honest in moments like this. The facts are…well, kind of irrefutable. The noisy neighbors have taken over the neighborhood. The Citizens have taken 5 out of the last 6 derby games, scoring 13 goals in their blue moon wake compared to the 5 the Red Devils managed to muster within the same period. Manuel Pellegrini won the league in his first stint as City boss.
The Reds fumbled the succession plan after the legend that is Sir Alex Ferguson called it a day at Old Trafford. Senior Moyes reign is one most reds would like to relegate to the farthest recess of their memories. It’s a brand new day with Van Gaal at the helm. His philosophy has taken a while to cement, but United now look like a squad looking to challenge on the domestic and continental front.
Manchester United Derby Banner created by Chuky the Manc @TheDailyManc.
United are on an impressive 5 game winning streak. LVG has vanquished Moyes tepid habit of losing home games, with the devils winning 10 out of the last 11 matches at the theater of dreams. United will want to keep pace with the top 2, especially with Arsenal scrapping a win at Burnley yesterday. Here are 3 keys to the Reds bucking the trend, and claiming this derby.
Keys to Winning Manchester Derby
1. Win the battle at the Edges
Van Gaal has relied on the overpowering opponents at the wide areas. The great movement and fluidity of Blind/Young/Fellaini on the left and Valencia/Herrera/Mata on the right will be the main key to unlocking City’s resolve on match day. Expect Clichy to be the most vulnerable, if United’s Spanish axis keeps up with recent form, they should be handful for the Frenchman who tends to be ill-positioned at times. It is likely Fellaini will be deployed against the recently stuttering Vincent Kompany, the result of that Belgian standoff could sway the results either way depending on who comes up victorious.
2. Keep IX Devils on the Pitch
Expect a feisty encounter. There have been 32 combined cautions from the last 6 matches between Manchester rivals. United has picked up 14, and City with the remaining 18 yellow cards to their ledger. The Red Devils have the only sending off, coming in the last derby – a result of a bit of madness from Chris Smalling. LVG will drive the importance of his lads to keep their heads on their shoulders, reminiscent of his crucial match preparations against Liverpool.
3. Jones Vs. Smalling
Smalling is reported to be a doubt for the game. If he is unfit, then fair enough, otherwise LVG has a monumental decision to make. Jones on paper seems the better of the English center halves, with superior defensive stats to bolster his claim to starting beside Rojo. Jones has a slightly superior tackles per game 2.2 versus 1.3, and interceptions – 3.4 over Smalling’s 2. However, the devil is in the details.
Stats Courtesy of Squawka.com - Interceptions/Blocks/Aerial Duels Won/Goals Scored/Successful Take-On's.
Smalling has better presence, and is more disciplined with his positioning meaning he isn’t launching himself into tackles. Jones is more adventurous; Smalling is a better offensive option with 3 goals to his name compared to the 0 contribution from Jones. LVG has a hard choice to make if both men are fit and available for selection.
The Red Devils have their tails up, and not too many pundits gave Van Gaal's men an outside chance to stare down the table at their noisy neighbors during this pivotal point of the campaign. United have an opportunity to complicate the title race, and get some revenge in front of hopeful, reinvigorated supporters at Old Trafford. United are built for the big games, I believe the devils will paint Manchester Red – once again.
Manchester United Predicted Starting XI
Manchester United Starting 11 Forecast on Matchday, Created 10th April, 2015 on FUTHEAD.