Manchester United will face Manchester City in this weekend’s derby and mouths have been wagging either about the best formation or the players that should be selected. It all boils down to the fact that the times have changed and Manchester United who used to be confident ahead of their city derbies before have now become very frail and very beatable.
One of the players likely to feature in the derby is Antonio Valencia. This much was hinted at by the club’s official twitter account in a tweet.
Louis van Gaal confirms Wayne Rooney is fit for the derby but Falcao misses out through injury. Antonio Valencia could also feature. #mufc
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 31, 2014
The winger has not featured for the Red Devils since their victory over Everton on the 5th of October when he sustained a hamstring injury. Whichever way you see it, his return will come as a boost to manager Louis van Gaal who will be looking for some strength in his team.
Depending on how the manager decides to align his team, Antonio Valencia could join the midfield in a 4-3-3 formation, or even handle business on the flanks in if the manager decides to employ the 4-4-2 formation. In that case, he will be able to assist Rafael with defensive duties because the Brazilian full-back is well known for his adventurous runs to the opponent’s half which are usually productive but the problem is that he is yet to master the art of balancing such efforts in such a way that it will not affect his primary defensive duties. So if Valencia gets a place in the team, then even if Rafael surges forward, the Ecuadorian’s pace and defensive capability will serve as back-up.
More so, if he gets to play in front of Daley Blind, even though he will lack the height advantage against Yaya Toure, it is still expected that his doggedness will prove an advantage in the midfield. Antonio Valencia has won 36% of his duels this season and if he can produce similar performance in the derby then Manchester United will be having a lot of space to work with. However, the problem is that, for Valencia to play, either of Juan Mata or the newly in-form Fellaini will have to be dropped. While it is almost impossible at the moment to drop Fellaini, the battle might be between Valencia and Mata, the former’s advantage being the fact he has a more disciplined style of play and can also help out defensively, but Mata’s claim is about his sleekness and brilliance only when he is with the ball. The tie breaker will now be if Louis van Gaal will deploy a player newly returned from an injury spell to face the Champions of England.
In my opinion, if Louis van Gaal does not adopt the 4-4-2, then Valencia has no business starting that game. In the midfield, there are Daley Blind and Marouane Fellaini for physical presence so Mata should provide the creativity after all if Herrera was fit, no one would have benched him…but then, it is just my opinion. In a few hours, we’ll see what the boss decides.