Football News

Wan Bissaka’s Manchester derby duel with Sterling has become “personal”, says Crooks

By CJ Smith

Published: 13:33, 9 March 2020 | Updated: 23:49, 20 September 2022

Garth Crooks believes the Manchester derby duels between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Raheem Sterling have “become personal”.

Manchester United beat local rivals Manchester City 2-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday in a game which saw the two Englishmen go toe-to-toe in a fascinating battle.

How did Wan-Bissaka shut down Sterling? Five things to know…

  • Only Ricardo Pereira (116) has made more tackles than Wan-Bissaka (99) in the Premier League this season.
  • Eight of those tackles came during Manchester United’s latest victory over Manchester City.
  • No Manchester City player managed to dribble past Wan-Bissaka, who also made eight recoveries and three interceptions during the game.
  • Manchester City‘s left-sided players, Sterling (6) and Mendy (3), were the only players to be dispossessed by an opponent more than once.
  • Crooks believes Wan-Bissaka and Sterling’s duels have become “personal” as they battle for supremacy on the flank.

Wan-Bissaka came out on top this time, making more tackles (8) than any other player on the pitch while no Manchester City player managed to dribble past him.

In the end, Pep Guardiola resorted to moving Sterling further into the middle of the pitch, hoping to use Benjamin Mendy’s power from left-back to overwhelm Wan-Bissaka. But, once again, the former Crystal Palace man was equal to the task and in the end, Sterling (6) and Mendy (3) were responsible for eight of the game’s 15 instances where a player was directly dispossessed by an opponent.

Crooks was impressed by the manner in which the 22-year-old right-back shackled his prestigious opponent and championed Wann-Bissaka’s timing as a key attribute.

“This was no ordinary contest, this has become personal,” Crooks told the BBC. “I’ve seen these two go at it before in a derby and it makes for great viewing.

“I have to say Wan-Bissaka came out on top on this occasion and I suspect Raheem Sterling won’t like it. In the end, Sterling went up front and Benjamin Mendy tried to use his pace and power to bully his way past the Manchester United right-back – but to no avail.

“This lad is one of the best timers of a tackle I have seen in years.”

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is the man most likely to be England‘s starting right-back at this summer’s European Championships but given his strong defensive form, Wan-Bissaka is very much in the frame for a call-up to Gareth Southgate‘s squad.

The defender faces stiff competition with the likes of Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Chelsea’s Reece James also vying to fill one of two traditional places in the Three Lions’ 23-man selection.

Manchester United’s derby win moves them back into fifth place in the table, just three points behind Chelsea in fourth. For Manchester City, the result leaves them 25 points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devils face LASK in the Europa League next, while Guardiola‘s men host Arsenal on Wednesday night.