Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of Manchester United’s derby against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium due to injury, leaving Ralf Rangnick low on attacking alternatives.
The nature of the 37-year-ailment old’s is unknown, but his absence is aggravated by the fact that Edinson Cavani is also allegedly unavailable to play.
Rangnick may entrust Marcus Rashford or the in-form youth Anthony Elanga to lead the line in the absence of Ronaldo and Cavani, or use Bruno Fernandes as a false nine.
Although Ronaldo’s injury is a setback for United, the veteran attacker hasn’t been at his best recently, scoring just once in his last ten games across all competitions.
With nine Premier League goals, he is United’s joint-highest scorer this season, alongside compatriot Bruno Fernandes, and has appeared in 23 of United’s 27 league games.
Gary Neville noted before the game that Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t a “huge loss” for this match because United is more equipped to playing on the counter-attack against their opponents.
“Manchester United will be playing on the counter-attack,” Neville remarked on Sky Sports. United has been a counter-attacking team for the previous three or four years, particularly under Ole, who were quite comfortable sitting back and punching out through Rashford and others on the break, and I believe that will be the case again today.
“I genuinely believe Cristiano not being in the lineup – I could never say it’s a positive – but I don’t think it’s as big a loss as I may in other games because I think Manchester United needs to be dangerous on the counter-attack today.”
“With Rashford up front counter-attacking, they are better off than they would be with Cristiano.”
Neither will Cavani feature in the Derby, as he has been out of action for the past few weeks owing to a groin injury and is still not fully fit.
With 15 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions, Ronaldo is United’s top scorer this season.
However, the 37-year-old has only scored once in his previous ten outings, and Cavani has only scored twice all season due to recurring fitness issues.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga are expected to compete for a No.9 spot against City in the absence of the attacking trio.
The former has been off of form recently, but the latter has impressed throughout his first season at Old Trafford, scoring in United’s most recent Premier League victory away at Leeds.