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Manchester City vs. Manchester United: Keys to Victory for Manchester Derby

(FILE PHOTO - EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image Numbers (left) 177990986 and 176924376 ) In this composite image a comparison has been made between David Moyes (L) , Manager of Manchester United and Manuel Pellegrini,Manager of Manchester City. Manchester City and Manchester United meet for the first Manchester Derby of the season on September 22, 2013 at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. ***LEFT IMAGE*** MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Manchester United Manager David Moyes applauds during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE***  MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Manuel Pellegrini the manager of Manchester City shouts instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on August 19, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2016

The winners of the last three Premier League titles will do battle on Sunday, as Manchester United travels to the Ethiad Stadium to face Manchester City in one of the most anticipated matches of the young season. 

The teams split their Premier League matchups last campaign, each winning on the road. Now, both teams will be trying to secure three points in a vital, early-season clash. 

So what will be the keys to this game? Which players will have to step up for their respective sides to ensure victory?

Let's find out.

 

Which Wayne Rooney Will Show Up?

Fear the headband!
Fear the headband!Michael Regan/Getty Images

Since his return from injury, Wayne Rooney has played like a man possessed, with three goals and an assist in Manchester United's last two games. 

In all, Rooney has been quite positive this year, as he also added two assists in United's Premier League opener against Swansea City after coming off the bench in the 61st minute.

He seems more comfortable in his role thus far this season, and he has been United's best player during the campaign since his return. 

If City doesn't keep him in check, it will be a long afternoon for the Citizens. 

 

Battle of the Midfield

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Hull City at the Etihad Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Phot
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The midfield was an area of concern for Manchester United this summer, though the team did add Marouane Fellaini on deadline day.

Now, the likely pairing of Fellaini and Michael Carrick will do battle with one of the most talented and physical double pivots in England, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho

There is no lack of attacking quality on either side and each defense will be tested, and both squads will try to keep width about their attack and stretch the field.

That makes the midfield the most intriguing battleground of this game, and the team that controls the middle will likely win this contest. 

 

How Will City Sort the Attack?

SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 24:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City walks off the pitch after the Barclays Asia Trophy Semi Final match between Manchester City and South China at Hong Kong Stadium on July 24, 2013 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Victor
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Can you have too much of a good thing? Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo all have two goals in the season, while Stevan Jovetic is a young, world-class talent.

While out wide the favored pairing seems to be David Silva and Jesus Navas—a nice fit, since Navas is a natural winger who keeps width, allowing Silva to drift centrally as he prefers—Manuel Pellegrini is still tinkering with his favored front two. 

One would guess the two players most familiar with this contest, Dzeko and Aguero, would get the start.

For City to win, that pairing will need to be as bright as Rooney and Robin van Persie, the top attacking pairing in the league. That's no small task, but nothing about facing the Red Devils is. 

 

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