Against Aston Villa, Wayne Rooney proved he has still got the knack for goal-scoring. After an earlier attempt at a bicycle kick (shades of Manchester City) which failed to come off, he showed precisely why he is still Manchester United’s best option at centre forward. If his cushioned control of Angel Di Maria’s wayward cross was not enough, the power and accuracy of his follow up shot was phenomenal. Brad Guzan could do nothing but watch on as the ball glided past him and as Rooney wheeled away in celebration, we all knew he was back to his attacking best.
Wazza now has 11 Barclays’ Premier League goals for the season and the striker’s resurgence is a sign United are on the rise. Rooney also has 11 goals in Manchester derbies and under-fire Manchester City boss Manuel Pelligrini will know that an ‘in form’ Rooney spells danger for his side on Sunday afternoon. In support Rooney will be relying on the intricate passing of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera, who have developed an almost telepathic connection in recent weeks to set up and create chances.
The highly charged atmosphere of a Manchester derby usually provides goals in abundance. In the last 6 meetings there have been an average of 4.5 per game. United have also been scoring freely at Old Trafford in recent weeks, netting 14 times in their last 6 home games, so Sunday’s match will definitely make for entertaining viewing. United have looked more solid defensively with Michael Carrick playing well in front of the back four. Daley Blind has proved he has the versatility to start consistently at left back; with 100 percent pass completion and tackle success during the first half against Villa and an assist for Ander Herrera’s first goal.
Meanwhile Manchester City are reeling from 3 defeats in their last 5 Barclays’ Premier League games and to heap even more pressure on the visitors, Sergio Aguero hasn’t scored in 6. The champions’ inconsistency has all but ended their title challenge, Louis van Gaal hasn’t ruled it out, but the most important thing is that the Red Devils continue their momentum up the table.
The performances of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero will be key to how City perform. But equally United’s back 4 must not be lead into the type of mistakes that cost them a result at the Etihad earlier in the season. Should LVG’s side turn the tables on City this time round you could say anything is possible in the run to the end of the season. As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “football bloody hell”.