On Sunday, Manchester United will play Manchester City in the storied Manchester derby, and for the first time in quite a while, Manchester United won’t be heading into a big game in the midst of a crisis.
On the back of somehow eeking out a 1-1 draw against Chelsea last week, United is actually in decent shape. Manchester City, on the other hand, is in pretty bad shape. They’re six points back from league-leaders Chelsea, and they’ve had three straight appalling performances: a 2-2 draw against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, a 1-2 loss away at West Ham last weekend, and a mid-week loss at home to a weakened Newcastle side in the League Cup, which was one of the competitions City won last year.
In any case, this derby is going to be huge for both sides, and it’s a must-watch game for anyone that has even a marginal interest in soccer. Here are three reasons why.
Wayne Rooney is back
United’s captain and 29-year-old problem child is going to be returning from serving a 3-match ban after receiving a straight red card against West Ham for one of the dumbest challenges of the season. Regardless of Rooney’s temper, he’s got a knack for scoring. Especially against Manchester City. He holds the derby scoring record with 11 goals in 22 meetings, including this ridiculous bicycle kick in 2011 which would later become the goal of the year.
Manchester City could actually lose
City has become something of a perennial superpower in the Premier League. Post-Sir Alex era United is generally non-threatening. Ordinarily, you could chalk this up as an easy three points for City, but they’ve been playing pretty poorly lately, and it’s beginning to wear on their confidence. At least that’s what head coach Manuel Pellegrini told the Irish Times.
“My feeling is that we are not playing well. We are in a difficult moment with a lack of trust. We are conceding too (many) easy goals and we are not scoring the chances we have to score. That’s the feeling at this moment.”
City also has a number of injuries, including David Silva, who will be out for three to four weeks after picking up a knee injury in their game against Newcastle, according to ESPN. Yaya Toure also picked up a slight knock, but he’s expected to play.
Marcos Rojo v. Sergio Aguero
Marcos Rojo came to United over the summer as part of a spend-a-thon to bolster the roster and maybe turn their fortunes after their worst-ever seventh place finish last season. He’s had a tough time getting adjusted this season because he’s a traditional wing back, but has been forced to play at the center of defense due to injuries and the fact that there just aren’t that many defenders on United’s roster.
His job is going to be even harder when he faces his Sergio Aguero this Sunday, who has a unique ability to turn a game on its head very quickly. Rojo, who played with Aguero on the Argentine national team at the World Cup this summer, acknowledged how hard the task would be in an interview with MUTV.
“He’s very good at getting into dangerous positions. You need to be very focused and concentrated on his movement and be very aware of where he is and where he might put himself.”
Manchester United will play Manchester City at Eitihad Stadium on Sunday, November 2nd at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCS. MICAH PETERS