Wayne Rooney sets up four of United’s five goals in a superb win in Leverkusen. Sergio Aguero notches for City before being subbed off at the break as Manuel Pellegrini opts to rest his top scorer. Pablo Hernandez could return for Swansea this evening against former club Valencia, Samuel Eto’o may be ruled out this weekend for Chelsea, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor is a doubt for Tottenham after picking up a groin problem in last Sunday’s hammering at the Etihad:
Rooney Leads Reds to Leverkusen Rout
David Moyes welcomed back Shinji Kagawa and Phil Jones from injury as the Red Devils swept aside Leverkusen in a superb attacking display. With Jones shoring up central midfield and the Japanese international handed the role in “the hole” behind Wayne Rooney, Moyes gave Antonio Valencia and Nani the wide berths in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Once again, Rooney was the main man for United, providing four assists in the 5-0 thrashing – both wingers found the net, while Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling also chipped in with a goal apiece as the visitors swept into the knockout stages.
After the match, Moyes discussed his forward options and revealed Kagawa could be utilised centrally more often as he looks to protect his squad’s fitness over the campaign:
“The link-up play was super tonight…It’s a long season and we’re going to have to have different combinations for different games but, tonight, Wayne and Shinji Kagawa were very good. Sometimes Wayne might need to play up front and Shinji will play behind. We have to make sure we have alternatives if Wayne or Robin [van Persie] are injured. Shinji was excellent tonight but he’s also good on the left.”
The Scout Says: Rooney’s display bodes well ahead of a trip to Tottenham as he looks to continue a superb run of form which has harvested three sets of double figures in the last four Gameweeks. Perhaps surprisingly, he’s currently only the eighth most transferred in forward this week, in spite of his recent displays, but with an eye-catching run of games directly after the Spurs clash, he looks set to play a major part in the festive period, with doubts still hovering over Van Persie’s fitness. Moyes’ words on Kagawa suggest the former Dortmund man is finally beginning to establish a foothold in his manager’s plans, though Fantasy managers are likely to be sceptical until he manages an extended run of matches.
Pellegrini Dismisses Aguero Injury Fears
Sergio Aguero was once again amongst the goals as City secured a 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen at the Etihad. The Argentine was subbed off at the break, leading to mid-match speculation of a possible injury, but his manager confirmed post-match that he only intended to field Aguero for the first 45 minutes, with a home game against Swansea on Sunday in mind. Samir Nasri, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko all found the net, whilst Jesus Navas continued his recent impressive from by climbing off the bench to provide a pair of assists.
The Scout Says: With Pellegrini’s assurances quickly calming our temporary fears, Aguero’s owners can now look forward to the weekend in the knowledge that the Argentine is fit and raring to go. Eyebrows were raised when the team sheets were announced, with many anticipating a night off for Aguero but, with City already through, it’s clear his manager is keen to protect his game time in order to unleash his star striker on Premier League backlines over the packed festive period. Given that the home clash against Swansea doesn’t take place until Sunday, there’s plenty time for rest as the Argentine looks to extend a record which has seen him average over 11 points per game in front of his own fans this season.
Swans Handed Hernandez Boost
Ahead of tonight’s Europa League clash with former club Valencia, the Swansea wide man is optimistic of returning from the thigh injury that has kept him on the sidelines in recent weeks:
“It’s possible I will play. I’ve been training this week with the team and I want to play this game. It’s a special game for me. The last three months for me have been very hard because I started the season with one injury. I recovered and then after two or three games, after the first international break, I was injured again in training. I recovered from this injury and then against West Ham I got another one. It’s hard for my head, but my family and friends supported me. They helped me to always think positively and I hope now I won’t have any more injuries this season.”
The Scout Says: Having opened the season with a goal, two assists and three bonus points, Hernandez quickly earned himself a midfield bandwagon before breaking down with a hamstring injury. The Spaniard returned to league action in Gameweek 9 and was handed half an hour off the bench before injury struck again – his stop-start season means Fantasy managers will likely keep their distance for now but with three home games in four (NEW, HUL, nor, EVE) following the weekend trip to City, Hernandez could find his way back onto our Fantasy radars if he can finally prove his fitness again.
Adebayor Worry for Villas-Boas
Reports in The Times suggest the Spurs forward is a doubt for the weekend visit of United. Adebayor is believed to have picked up a groin problem during the 6-0 defeat at former club City last Sunday and is expected to miss this evening’s Europa League lash with Tromso.
The Scout Says: After failing to feature in the league all season, the Togo international has come in from the cold as Andre Villas-Boas attempts to solve his side’s inability to find the net. A half-time appearance at the Etihad was expected to help boost his match-fitness, with the Spurs boss considering a move to 4-4-2 in order to provide Roberto Soldado with extra support – unless Villas-Boas fancies handing Jermain Defoe a chance alongside the Spaniard, he may have to continue with a 4-2-3-1 against the champions. Given his side have a single converted spot-kick to their name in the last four, Villas-Boas certainly has plenty to consider – he made six changes to his side last time round and still seems nowhere nearer to finding the best starting XI after a raft of summer signings bloated his first-team squad.
Eto’o Concern for Blues
Jose Mourinho is sweating on the availability of Samuel Eto’o after he was stretchered off in Tuesday’s Champions League loss at Basel. The Cameroon international is reported to be an early doubt for the home game against Southampton due to a muscle injury as the Blues look for a sixth win in seven at the Bridge.
The Scout Says: Luckily for Mourinho, the Basel game also signalled the return of Fernando Torres from a similar complaint. Eto’o had started the last two league matches in the Spaniard’s absence and while he failed to score in the weekend win at West Ham, his display was hailed by Mourinho, who reckoned Eto’o’s movement was key to the success of a change in tactics, as he shifted from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3. With Mourinho’s thoughts on rotation a clear sign of his intentions ahead of 10 games between December 1 and January 1, the Blues lone forward role, which is plagued with uncertainty at the best of times, is one we’ll be happy to avoid.
Moses Desperate for Game Time
Liverpool’s on-loan wide man has admitted he is itching to find a way back into the first XI after dropping down the pecking order in recent weeks. The Nigerian international also conceded he is looking to earn a position out wide, after struggling to make his mark in the role in “the hole” behind a lone forward during Brendan Rodgers’ brief experiment with a 3-4-1-2 formation:
“The main thing is to be on the pitch and enjoy football. That’s always been on my mind – to play games. I think I can develop a lot more but I realise to achieve that I’ve got to play as much as possible….When you’re in the middle the ball comes to you more often – but usually there are more players around to stop you. On the wing sometimes you can drift in and out of the game depending on how things are going. But you have more space so when the ball does come, you have a better chance of causing problems.”
The Scout Says: With Philippe Coutinho back in the XI and nailed on wide left, either in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, Moses’ best chance of a starting spot looks on the opposite flank. Jordan Henderson provides stern competition for Moses on the right, though; the former Sunderland man is the only outfield player to have managed every minute of the season under Rodgers. Despite emerging from the bench in each of the last three, Moses may well have to accept the role of impact sub unless injuries force the likes of Coutinho onto the sidelines once again.
For Gameweek 29
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs|
|No Change||Ruddy||NOR||B, Vs|
|No Change||Howard||EVE||B, Vs|
|No Change||Adrián||WHM||B, £|
|Up||Mannone||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Fonte||SOT||B, Vs|
|No Change||Olsson||NOR||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Coleman||EVE||C, Vs|
|Up||Bardsley||SUN||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Williamson||NEW||C, £|
|No Change||Lallana||SOT||B, Vs|
|Down||Snodgrass||NOR||B, Vs, Inj|
|No Change||Ince||CPL||C, Rest, £|
|Down||Mirallas||EVE||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Noone||CAR||C, Inj, £|
|No Change||Lambert||SOT||B, Vs|
|No Change||Rodriguez||SOT||C, Vs, £|
|Up||Crouch||STO||B, Vs, £|
|Up||Hooper||NOR||C, Vs, £|
|Up||Lukaku||EVE||C, Vs, Inj|
|No Change||Jelavic||HUL||B, £|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“He's working hard at it and so are we. Sometimes we play well but not all the time. We don't have luck on our side. It's easy to point the finger at someone but I'm not like that. We have to do better ourselves.”Robin Van Persie on criticism of David Moyes.