This is the first game of the season where Mata hasn’t been involved, unless he is brought off the bench, and Darmian has also played almost all of Man United’s games this season.
With the Manchester derby coming up, van Gaal has taken the chance to give the players a break. Although, he insisted his decision wasn’t based on this weekend’s game.
Speaking to BT Sport ahead of the game, van Gaal said: “I have to say Juan Mata has played every game so he also needs a rest and the same thing for Darmian.”
When it comes to big weeks like this with two important games in the space of only a few days, it’s important for van Gaal to rotate in order to keep his squad fresh and that’s exactly what he’s done.
Jesse Lingard‘s pace should compliment United who I expect to sit deep and hit on the counter-attack, so the decision to bring him in for Mata may have even happened without the City game being in the back of van Gaal’s mind.
Antonio Valencia comes in for Darmian and he’s got a point to prove on what should be quite a tough night in a game United really could do with winning to avoid increasing the pressure.