The 168th Manchester derby is here, and we are all better for it.
Unfortunately for Manchester United, Falcao isn’t here to experience it when the two teams square off from the Etihad live on NBCSN at 8:30am ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
The injured Colombian hasn’t gotten fit in time to make the game, and thus the Red Devils are left with just one out-and-out striker – Robin van Persie – in the entire squad, starting lineup or bench.
They do have some relief as Wayne Rooney, the man with the most goals in Manchester derbies in history, comes back from a red card suspension just in time to find himself slotted in to support van Persie up front.
Louis van Gaal has gone with what’s worked in the lineup, pairing Marouane Fellaini next to Daley Blind in the holding midfield, allowing one or the other to venture forward and cause defenders problems.
Another decision by van Gaal has left Juan Mata on the bench, left out of the attacking midfield that features Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, and Angel Di Maria. Winger Antonio Valencia is deputizing at right-back with Rafael missing out with a training injury.
Manchester City hasn’t made it to the Etihad without casualties of its own, as David Silva has gone down for three weeks with knee ligament damage and will not feature this morning. James Milner has been penciled in as his replacement but the dropoff is evident.
Manuel Pellegrini has left Samir Nasri on the bench as well, deciding instead for the stronger Milner in the middle supported by Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas, with the Frenchman unable to crack the starting lineup coming off an Achilles injury.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kolarov, Demichelis, Kompany; Fernando, Yaya Toure; Navas, Milner, Jovetic; Aguero.
Bench: Caballero, Clichy, Sagna, Fernandinho, Boyata, Dzeko, Nasri.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Shaw; Blind, Fellaini; Januzaj, Rooney, Di Maria; van Persie.
Bench: Lindegaard, McNair, Carrick, Fletcher, Herrera, Mata, Wilson.