Derby County vs Manchester United - 3 talking points before the kick-off | FA Cup 2019-20
- Wayne Rooney takes on his former side in an exciting clash.
The ex-Red Devils star has taken up the mantle of captaincy since joining the Rams in January, and guiding his side past his former colleagues would add a significant feather to his cap.
The hosts will try to take inspiration from last season's incredible shootout victory over United, where they triumphed 8-7 at the Old Trafford in a pulsating Carabao Cup tie. However, the Premier League giants enjoyed a 3-1 success on their last visit to Derbyshire in 2016.
Let's look at the three main talking ahead of the latest encounter between Derby and United:
#1 'Old dog' Rooney to bite Manchester United?
Most of the pre-match scrutiny involving this contest is billed around the exciting prospect of Rooney taking on his former side Manchester United. The ex-Red Devil star will be leading the line for Derby County at the Pride Park, and would be fancying his chances of making a mark against his former colleagues.
The 34-year-old confessed his profound feelings for the club in a pre-match press conference, but sounded very upbeat to face his former beloved club. He has made an immediate impact with the Rams since joining in January, being involved in five goals, but one against United would be truly special.
#2 Anthony Martial or Odion Ighalo?
Anthony Martial started the 1-1 draw against Everton last weekend after returning from an injury, and played the entire match - but to minimal effect. The Frenchman looked marginalized for most of the time in a two-pronged attack with Mason Greenwood, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would want him to be at the top of his game for Sunday's Manchester derby.
Therefore, it makes sense to rest him and start new acquisition Odion Ighalo at the Pride Park. The Nigerian missed a huge opportunity to open his account with the Red Devils when he failed to connect with a cross in the dying embers of the Everton clash, but in all honesty he needs more game-time to settle in.
This FA Cup tie is the perfect occasion to get just that.
#3 Solskjaer's conflicting priorities
The FA Cup remains the manager's only realistic shot at silverware this season, and subsequently, to save himself from the axe. Manchester United are of course actively contesting the Europa League and have a seemingly duck soup against LASK in the last 16, but the likes of Arsenal and Inter Milan can prove to be potential banana skins for his team.
The Red Devils are also contesting for the final Champions League spot, which will likely go to the side finishing fifth after Manchester City's ban. But they have a rocky road ahead, starting with the derby this weekend.
United are effectively fighting on three fronts, but with injuries taking a toll on the squad, Solskjaer has his team tightly stretched.Published 04 Mar 2020, 23:38 IST