Wednesday 24 January 2018

Van Persie key to unlocking City fortress

Jamie Jackson

Alex Ferguson will trust in an experienced Manchester United side spearheaded by Robin van Persie as he attempts to end Manchester City's two-year unbeaten league run at the Etihad Stadium in this afternoon's 163rd derby.

United are three points ahead of City, who last lost at home on December 20, 2010, when Everton beat Roberto Mancini's team 2-1.

"I've got a good squad, I'll maybe go for experience and try to work around that," Ferguson said. "It's been well pointed out City don't lose games at home. Two years, it's a fantastic record, so hopefully we can find the right solution as to how we operate the game."

The £24m arrival of Van Persie in the summer has been followed by 13 goals in all competitions, with the Dutchman scoring 10 of United's 37 in the league. "He's mature, he's experienced," Ferguson said. Despite Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa and Nani all being out injured, Ferguson denied he has a crisis in midfield.

"Not really," he said. "We've got Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes. We can play Rooney in there. Looking at who I can play in the wide position might be a problem.

"But with Robin van Persie up front and Chicharito [Javier Hernandez], we've got Welbeck who could play wide, that's a definite option. Maybe Chicharito, too. I'm not short of players."

Last season's league derbies ended with United losing both to an aggregate score of 7-1.

The corresponding fixture in late April proved a crucial encounter with City winning 1-0 after a Vincent Kompany header just before half-time, and Ferguson admitted he may have been too cautious in his approach to the crunch game.

"Well, I think there was a caution to it, we should have maybe played Welbeck," he said.

Although United were routed 6-1 by City in the opening derby last season, Mancini pointed to the win at the Etihad as being the more significant. "With the 6-1, they only had 10 players [after Jonny Evans was sent off]," he said.

"But in the second derby here, we played very well and didn't concede any chances. The second was a true derby because when you have 10 men, it's clear that you have some problems."

See Page 7

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