Wayne Rooney’s participation in Sunday’s Manchester derby could be in doubt after the striker was reportedly seen limping at a promotional event and, if recent results are anything to go by, Louis van Gaal will be desperate to have his captain available.
With United still to record a win away from Old Trafford in any competition this season, making it now almost seven months since their 4-0 win at Newcastle when David Moyes was still in situ, the Dutchman will nonetheless have been encouraged by his side’s fightback to deny Chelsea victory on Sunday.
However, statistics compiled by Opta show their chances of inflicting a second successive defeat on City may rest on Rooney’s return from suspension. In the three Premier League derbies he has missed since leaving Everton in 2004 United have yet to win, drawing one, losing the other two and scoring a single goal, while their record with him in the side is much more favourable, with nine wins and two draws from 17 matches.
Rooney surpassed Eric Cantona as the leading scorer in Manchester derbies in the Premier League era with his consolation goal at the end of last season’s 4-1 defeat at the Etihad – a strike that also took him past City’s Francis Lee and Joe Hayes on the all-time list.
It is now almost two years since United last got the better of their neighbours, when Rooney scored twice inside the opening half-hour but needed a late winner from Robin van Persie after Yaya Touré and Pablo Zabaleta had pegged them back.
Rooney’s goals that day came from his only two shots, whereas his record over the course of his 17 appearances in Manchester derbies in the Premier League has seen him score eight from 39 shots for a ratio of just over 20%. Ed Aaron