A quick one, on the eve of the Derby.
Nine days ago, in a trickier than expected away day to Hull City, Pellegrini rejected his traditional 4-4-2 for a narrow 4-2-3-1. Dzeko's start kept Negredo on the bench, while behind him, was Yaya Toure in an advanced and central role between Nasri and Silva. Beneath them was the central midfield duo of Fernandinho, playing as a true box-to-box, while Garcia shielded the back four.
And on Saturday, in an easier than expected home win against Fulham, Pellegrini again opted for a 4-2-3-1, this time with Negredo leading the line. And as Dzeko failed to make the bench -- apparently out of match day sickness -- the lack of two strikers this time seemed a necessity, as Stevan Jovetic was likely unfit to play a full ninety.
Against Hull, the system change became especially useful when Vincent Kompany saw red just ten minutes into the game. Instead of having to turn to his bench, Pellegrini simply dropped Javi Garcia from defensive midfield to central defense, replacing him in midfield with Yaya. The formation became a 4-2-2-1, with the fullbacks becoming essential to the forward play as they were then required to provide width in attack.
The question then, is this: did Pellegrini "revert" to a 4-2-3-1 out of necessity or practicality? As we've seen all season (and again just last week with Chelsea v Aston Villa), every game can prove a challenge and the increased man in midfield gives an added level of stability to this side; while against Hull, the single striker system proved far more flexible than a 4-4-2.
With Dzeko, Negredo, and (thankfully!) Jovetic all available tomorrow, Pellegrini will certainly have a decision to make: does he go for a two striker system out of familiarity, even though the Dzeko/Negredo pairing has been rather fruitless this season, or does he commit an extra midfielder (likely, Javi Garcia) knowing that this City side have the individual talent at other parts of the pitch to negate the offensive loss of a striker?
My guess is the latter, as United's central midfield -- even with the recent resurgence of Fellaini -- is the weakest and most vulnerable part of Moyes' United. With van Persie's injury and Rooney's subsequent move to striker, the #10 position in the United attack is now available to either Mata or Kagawa -- two players who are perfectly capable of running the show a dominating the middle of the pitch.
It's for these reasons that Pellegrini might just find solace in the extra midfield man; a tactical tweak that would allow Fernandinho and Yaya Toure to move forward at will.