Our video shows three goals United have scored on the counter-attack this season, including Rooney's first at the Etihad in January:
– Giggs picks up the ball and finds Rooney in a pocket of space, having got goalside of De Jong. Rooney sets off towards goal and United have four v five, with Valencia in acres of space.
– Lescott is forced out of the centre to meet Rooney, who moves the ball wide to Valencia. Kolarov breaks out to close down Valencia.
– Valencia crosses first time, taking Kolarov out of the equation. Kompany, Lescott and Richards aren't positioned to challenge for the header.
– De Jong’s leap is token and Rooney soars to flick a brilliant header in off the bar.
United learned a hard lesson about playing too openly against them in the home league fixture, so Sir Alex is likely to ask his team to counter-attack, as we saw early in the FA Cup win at the Etihad Stadium in January. The Reds went out that day with four across the midfield plus Wayne Rooney dropping in to make five. By defending in their own half, the United players put the onus on the Blues to advance into the United half, where space and time were limited.
Then when in possession, United were top-loaded with pace and mobility and set up to break explosively, with Valencia and Nani streaking down the wings, Welbeck occupying the centre-halves and Rooney picking up the spaces from which he loves to prompt things.
OK, Kompany was sent off shortly after the goal, which changed the game’s dynamics, but that first ten minutes showed that counter-punching could be the key on Monday.
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Manchester United.