Key battles

Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Vincent Kompany.
Vincent Kompany.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
Morgan Schneiderlin.
Morgan Schneiderlin.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
Yaya Toure.
Yaya Toure.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
Chris Smalling.
Chris Smalling.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
Wilfried Bony.
Wilfried Bony.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Match points: Man United v Man City

Wayne Rooney v Vincent Kompany

Rooney's form may be indifferent but van Gaal felt he prospered by returning to the central striker's role at his old club Everton. City are yet to concede a league goal with captain Kompany on the pitch this season and Pellegrini, who has left him on the bench for the last two games, has to restore him to the starting XI now.

Morgan Schneiderlin v Yaya Toure

Van Gaal erred by omitting Schneiderlin from his side at Arsenal and they were overrun in midfield. He ought to be an automatic choice now, particularly because Toure used to overpower slow United midfields. But Schneiderlin is six years younger than the Ivorian, who has been criticised for not tracking back.

Chris Smalling v Wilfried Bony

Smalling had contrasting derby experiences last season: He was branded "stupid" by van Gaal after being sent off at the Etihad and then scored in the win at Old Trafford. Bony doubled his City goal tally to four in last week's win over Bournemouth, but was poor against Sevilla and Pellegrini could even opt to play without a specialist striker.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Key battles'. Print Edition | Subscribe