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3.3 Tackles and 2.8 Interceptions per Game: Why This Frenchman Could be the Vital Cog in Manchester United’s Lineup?

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Morgan Schneiderlin

The Manchester Derby, which is regarded among one of the most fierce rivalries in World Football, decides the bragging rights of the city of Manchester season after season. Be it at Old Trafford or at the Etihad, the game is just as entertaining and always seems to guarantee you goals. It tends to divide the city into two halves, the red one, which signifies the Upper Half of it and the blue half, which denotes the Lower Half of it. And as another highly anticipating derby beckons, it gives the impression of this being on of the closest ones in modern times. After City’s sudden rise to prominence in 2008, a new spark has light up this game and United’s monotonous subjugation collapsed, with that.


With United at 3rd and City at the top, the room for error would be very small for both teams and even the slightest would be punished, it promises to be such a game. But if there’s a man who can influence the game substantially, it’s none other than Manchester United’s French midfield dynamo Morgan Schneiderlin.

The 25-year-old, who arrival from St. Mary’s did a lot to appease United fans, has begun his career at Old Trafford strongly, scoring the first during United’s 3-0 victory at Goodison last week. He wasn’t exactly at his absolute best when the season commenced, but the Frenchman has certainly recaptured his form off late.

There’s little that we can criticize him for, and a lot we can expect him to do. His outing against CSKA Moscow in United’s recent Champions League game was gratifying and impressive and he arguably was one of the best players on the pitch. His ball distribution and accuracy stood out, well above the rest and he was seen pulling the strings from deeper areas.

This season, Schneiderlin has been very sound defensively. He’s made 3.3 tackles every game and 2.8 interceptions too, which is more than just convincing if you play for a top club.

Morgan Schneiderlin
Morgan Schneiderlin

If there’s a man who can deny him and his abilities the chance to flourish, he’s none other City’s 30-year-old Fernandinho. He’s someone whose defensive traits allow players like Yaya Toure to push forward and do the work, allowing the others to do the same. A bit like what Nemanja Matic did for Chelsea last season. He’s strong, well built and an established tackler.

His statistics proves that he’s just as capable as Schneiderlin. The former Shakhtar man has shown adeptness in tackling, making 3.8 of them, and expertise in intercepting too, winning 2 of them per game. More so, he’s the fourth best passer in the Premier League after Andy Surman, Cesc Fabregas and Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla.

What separates him from Schneiderlin, and although the Frenchman has those traits, but the difference lies in using them, is mobility. Fernandinho attempts more dribbles and carries the ball forward more often than Schneiderlin and is more confident in doing so. He’s a bit more of a carrier than Schneiderlin, with that being the sole difference in their approach to the game.

The battle between these two highly able midfielders would be key, come Sunday. Both possess similar playing styles and strengths and have had solid seasons so far too.

Dele Alli
Dele Alli

City, away to Spurs were pounded by the midfield pairing of Delle Ali and Eric Dier, leading to a result that ended up giving them the blushes. Both Alli and Dier pressed the duo of Fernandinho and Toure to perfection, stifling them for space and room, disallowing them to string passes together. Dier is a kind of a midfielder who is in the mould of Schneiderlin and despite being played out of position, has done exceedingly well for Tottenham.

The onus of doing the same would fall on the midfield, Schneiderlin to be specific, as he performs both the jobs of playing key passes forward and winning balls back in the midfield.