Manchester United need Champions League form Valencia to beat City

Can Antonio Valencia replicate his form from the recent win against Bayer Leverkusen?

Tomorrow will see David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini take on their first ever Manchester Derby as United travel to The Etihad Stadium to take on their ‘noisy neighbours’ in the Premier League.

After difficult transitions into their new jobs, both managers were given a boost by the performance of their teams in midweek Champions League fixtures.

Manchester City were expected to thrash Viktoria Plzen anyway, so when they did nobody was surprised. But United had a much more difficult task in taking on Bayer Leverkusen of the Bundesliga at Old Trafford.

After the 4-2 win one man rightly got all the plaudits, a certain Wayne Rooney. In some ways, fair enough. Rooney’s double was essentially the difference maker - and it also took him to 200 goals for the club he almost forced an exit from this summer, apparently.

But surely one player, who was absolutely sensational, is being overlooked.

In 2011-12 Antonio Valencia quite rightly was considered by many to be the player of the season, not just for United but out of all 20 teams. The powerful Ecuadorean was absolutely sublime and spent much of the season leaving Premier League defenders rooted to the spot as his direct style left them gasping for pace.

Last term was, in comparison, poor.

He struggled to maintain that form into a new season, and he became erratic and inconsistent - the fans noticed and he was widely criticised for a below par campaign.

But it was only because the United faithful knew what he was capable of now, and this season he is starting to get back to his best.

Against Bayer the wide-man was the star of the show. He tore the German side apart at will in a game where he bagged an assist and a goal. His dribbling was on point and his crosses were also viciously delivered with accuracy - in short, he was superb.

This weekend against City he will likely be put up against either Gael Clichy or Aleksander Kolarov - and he should fancy his chances against either player.

Clichy showed in last season’s FA Cup final, when up against Callum McManaman, that he is not always at his best when players are direct and run at him. Kolarov, well he is simply not a defender and Valencia would easily exploit that fact.

I think of all the players in the United team, the key to them winning this tie is Valencia. If he can unlock his Champions League form - then City are in trouble, if he doesn’t then the game is the home sides for the taking.

How good do you think Valencia was in midweek?

image: © Magnus D

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