MANCHESTER (Sporting Alert) — Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United make five changes from the side that suffered defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup last week for today’s Manchester derby clash with Manchester City.
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Striker Wayne Rooney and right back Rafael returns for the contest, while top goalscorer Robin van Persie, who scored the winning goal when these two last met and Danny Welbeck all start up front in the attacking side named by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones start at center back, while Ashley Young, Ryan Giggs and Michael start in the midfield.
Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez, Nani, Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa are all on the substitutes’ bench.
Defending champions Manchester City, meanwhile make two adjustments to the team that defeated Newcastle United 4-0 last time out with James Milner and Matija Nastasic replacing Edin Dzeko and Joleon Lescott in the starting team.
Captain Vincent Kompany starts in defence, while former Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez is the lone striker.
Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and David Silva all start as well.
It was expected that striker Sergio Aguero would have started, but City boss Roberto Mancini explained: “Sergio Aguero is not 100% fit.
“He is ready to play but not for 90 minutes. Maybe he can play 45 minutes.”
Mancini added: “It is an important game, we want to reduce the gap but we know it will be difficult. They are a good team, they deserve to win this title.
“Next year I hope it will be different.”
United lead the Premier League standings and are 15 points clear of City at the top.
Manchester United v Manchester City
Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra, Young, Carrick, Giggs, Welbeck, Rooney, van Persie.
Subs: Lindegaard, Valencia, Hernandez, Nani, Cleverley, Kagawa, Buttner.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany, Clichy, Barry, Toure, Milner, Nasri, Silva, Tevez. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Dzeko, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Aguero, Toure.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Manchester Derby TV Channels (ET)
3:00pm Manchester United vs Manchester City – TSN, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, RDS, Sky Sports 1/HD, ESPN3, TalkSport Radio, Fox Sports 1 Australia, Sky Sports 3D, SuperSport 3 Africa, SuperSport 10, True Sport 1, Canal+ Sport, SuperSport Maximo, SuperSport Live, WatchESPN.com, BBC Radio 5 Live