Manchester United’s big spending summer saw six players join in an unprecedented amount of activity and heading into the derby on Sunday, all six are in contention to start.
Alongside David de Gea, Angel di Maria will be the first name on Louis van Gaal‘s team-sheet. The Argentinian has started off his United career like a house on fire and he hasn’t even hit top gear yet.
His pace while running with the ball is frightening and every time he gets the ball there is already an air of expectancy that he will create something. Only the best players in the world have that sort of aura and Di Maria certainly falls into that category.
Fellow Argentinian Marcos Rojo will also start in defence as will Luke Shaw and both will need to bring their A-game because City’s strength, much like United, lies with their attack. In Sergio Aguero, City have one of the best centre forwards in world football and keeping him quiet is going to be a tough ask.
Daley Blind is also a certainty to start against City. The midfielder has made the deep-lying anchor role his own in the absence of Michael Carrick and he has very much become the linchpin of United’s midfield diamond. With him protecting the defence, United might finally have a midfield presence that can stop Yaya Toure running riot.
So there will be at least four players making their first appearance in a derby and there could be six depending on injuries. Ander Herrera has been in training all week having missed the Chelsea game after his fractured rib flared up against West Brom and his dynamism could be vital for United in midfield as that is where recent derbies have been lost due to City’s total control.
Up front, Radamel Falcao could make his return having also missed the Chelsea game. A potential front three of Rooney behind Van Persie and Falcao would be enough to make any defence shiver, let alone a City side who have only won three of their last ten games.
When you put it like that, having six players who haven’t felt the atmosphere of a derby all experience it at the same time could be a recipe for disaster, so Louis van Gaal may instead choose to use experience such as Michael Carrick on the day.
Either way, there are likely to be at least four United players involved in their first derby and whether that helps or hinders United won’t be known until the whistle kicks off on Sunday.