Each player is extremely important to their side for different reasons and it’s one of the main battles which will go a long way to deciding whether United can repeat their win from last season or whether City can push ahead and form a gap over their neighbours.
Rooney is arguably the most important player in Manchester United’s current squad and someone that Kompany will have to keep deathly quiet over the course of 90 minutes.
What Rooney is so good at currently is roaming that gap in between the opposition’s defence and midfield, which will make it difficult for someone like Kompany to step out of position and press him to win back possession and to stop him from winning the ball.
It also won’t be at all surprising to see Rooney pushing onto Kompany’s side of the defence before dropping off, with the intention of encouraging the Belgian to step out and follow him.
He’ll try and make a point out of the battle against Kompany, mentally trying to make the City captain feel as though he has a point to prove.
That increases the chances that Rooney could manipulate him sideways, as well as pulling him forward towards midfield, which has the same effect of creating potential space.
That would create a huge gap of space for someone like Robin van Persie to exploit or whoever plays over on the left side of United’s midfield, to cut inside and exploit.
Kompany is clever enough to be aware of all of this and his main job as captain will be to ensure the City back four retains its shape.
That will be difficult with the full backs bombing forward constantly throughout the game to provide extra width, which means Kompany could have more problems than just Rooney when United counter attack.
One of Kompany’s great strengths is his decision making in the back four. He’s a very clever player when it comes to knowing when he can step out, without leaving a threat in behind him.
If van Persie is being contained, it means Kompany can be more aggressive going after Rooney because there is less of a threat that the space he leaves behind will be exploited by United’s other main forward.
In a straight up physical battle between the two, Kompany should feel confident of coming out on top. He’ll want Rooney to drift as close to the centre of City’s defence as possible because any 50/50 challenges, city should be able to win.
It will be a fascinating battle to watch but City can’t leave Kompany to deal with Rooney on his own because any specific instructions or man marking job along those lines would be disastrous.
Who do you think will win this battle?
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