Today's edition of the Manchester Derby should provide a chance for Wayne Rooney to once again shine as one of the great players at Manchester United. It's been an odd season for Rooney having been left out of some key games, causing a great deal of speculation about his future with the club.
His omission from United's Champions League second leg against Real Madrid raised some eyebrows but the move to start Danny Welbeck instead made sense and worked out pretty well, despite the ultimate result. Rooney's defensive short comings could have been exploited by Madrid, and Welbeck was outstanding in doing the job that was tasked to him.
Today however is a chance for Rooney to remind us that's he's still an extremely good player because as our Manchester United blog The Busby Babe points out, Manchester City's lack of a deep midfield wizard takes more of the defensive responsibility away from Rooney's position. He'll also get a chance to attack City and that's where he can really make his mark.
Attacking wise, Rooney should have plenty of opportunity to influence the derby. One defensive weakness of City is the lackadaisical efforts of their strikers not called Carlos Tevez. Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko aren't the most enthusiastic players in leading the defensive effort from the front. The knock-on effect is that the central-midfielders -- Yaya and Barry -- often are forced to step up higher and close down the space in front of them. In turn, this leaves too much space between City's defensive and midfield lines. This is space that Rooney, or whoever is tasked in the secondary striker/No.10 role for United, can exploit.
United would love nothing more than to drive what would essentially be a final nail in their rivals coffin today with an emphatic victory over City. Wayne Rooney will in all likelihood start and should be instrumental in making that happen. He'll have time and space, it's just up to him to take advantage of it.