Friday 23 October 2015

Shutting down City will be key to victory in derby

Manchester City go into Sunday's derby without their two main attacking threats in Sergio Aguero and David Silva so it looks likely that they will set up to contain us and hit on the counter attack. 

This may affect the way that Pellegrini gets them to play- they may be a little more defensive than usual and use the pace of their wingers- probably Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling- to get in behind us and bring Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfried Bony into the game.

To nullify the threat of the pacy duo, United's wingers will need to track back to help our full-backs and protect the flanks, so as a result it looks likely that Anthony Martial will again operate on the left (as he has done in recent weeks to keep check on Seamus Coleman and Mario Fernandes respectively).

The midfield battle again looks absolutely key and is the one area where we might- just might- have the edge.
For me, it's the midfield duels that will decide the match.

Bastian Schweinsteiger will sit in front of the back four- as Fernandinho will do for them- whilst the composure and energy of Morgan Schneiderlin will get United forward from deep, a role that Yaya Toure will surely similarly be tasked with for Pellegrini's side. 

How United deal with Toure will be interesting- in last year's derby Michael Carrick performed a man marking job on the Ivorian and magnificently shut him out- so whether Van Gaal will go for Carrick again instead of derby debutant Schweinsteiger is an intriguing subplot. 

Of course, Schweinsteiger is similar in style to Carrick and what he lacks in pace he makes up for in distribution, vision, range of passing and experience, so there is no reason why he could not shackle Toure, but Van Gaal has rotated the pair this season and may feel Carrick's experience of this fixture makes him preferable.

We know that City are vulnerable at the back (they've not kept a clean sheet since early September)- so, whether Vincent Kompany plays or not- we need to exploit their one glaring deficiency with Martial's pace and Mata's craft and creativity (with Ander Herrera drifting between midfield and attack) and target their defence from set-pieces.

In short, our best hope of victory is targeting their weakness and shutting them down both in midfield and out wide and, if we can do that, we'll be enjoying a second successive win over the neighbours come Sunday. 

Yaya Toure and Carrick could locks horns again on Sunday 

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