Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney’s participation in the 168th derby clash with Manchester City is in doubt after the forward picked up a knock in training.
Rooney has been the Red Devils’ leading light in recent clashes with the Citizens, notching five of their last eight goals in the fixture, including a brace in each of their last two victories.
While it has yet to be confirmed whether or not he will miss the fixture, the 28-year-old’s absence is sure to be keenly felt, yet all is far from lost for Louis van Gaal’s side.
That moniker is slowly becoming more appropriate for a United outfit that have experienced their fair share of turmoil since Sir Alex Ferguson’s dugout departure.
Indeed, Rooney’s absence from Premier League action has coincided with two of the Red Devils’ best results of the campaign so far.
Four points have been gleaned from clashes with blue-clad would-be bamboozlers Everton and Chelsea without the Liverpudlian.
A feature of the threat-laden attacking performances perpetrated by Van Gaal’s minions has been the burgeoning understanding between Juan Mata and Angel di Maria, an entente that would likely have been hampered had Rooney been around.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal has opted for a 4-1-4-1 setup in two of the last three games – away at West Brom and at home to the league leaders – a formation which would see Rooney shunted back into a midfield berth were he available.
It’s a mindset the Dutchman is sure to want to replicate against City.
United are 19/20 to avoid defeat at the hands of rivals who have been a pale imitation of their title-winning selves in recent outings this weekend.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have shipped twice in each of their two most recent outings, a draw in Moscow and a loss to a West Ham outfit they routinely toyed with last term.