After two wins from their last two games, Manchester United are looking to make it three wins straight in what would be, not the most important, but the most satisfying win of the three on Tuesday. United face rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford and, without too much hope left in the league, denting City’s Premier League title hopes has become the next immediate target.
City are six points behind leaders Chelsea at the top of the table but have three games in hand, which would then put them into the top spot if they were to win all three. The first of those games is against United and it’s set to be yet another huge derby clash between the two. United were in truly awful shape just a week ago, but the picture has changed since with wins over West Ham United in the Premier League and Olympiakos in the Champions league; it’s amazing what just a couple of wins can do for a club.
Next stop, though, is City, and with Robin Van Persie out injured, it will be another chance to have a look at the combination of Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata in attack. There are some very real signs that United — now with Mata central — may be a better functioning team without Van Persie than they are with him. Mata is much more influential playing from the center but is largely absent when pushed wide. Van Persie is a difference maker with his goals obviously, but over 90 minutes, the team seems to link up better and have a more balanced look without him. Especially with Mata, although last year that probably would not have been the case.
It will be a difficult dilemma for David Moyes to figure out ahead of next season when Van Persie will be fit again. How do you fit all three players in the team and in their best, most influential positions? It’s not easy. Until then, though, the rest of this season will be the judge of whether a Rooney/Mata linkup is the best choice for United or not. Games against the likes of City will be the real test of that too, not games against West Ham. The signs are good so far though and United fans will be happy for that to continue tomorrow — denting City’s title hopes would just be the icing on the cake too.