Writing in his weekly Independent column, Scholes said that Mata was “overpowered” in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea - and fully expects Van Gaal to relegate the Spaniard down to the subs’ bench in favour of Rooney, who returns from his three-match ban.
Scholes, who retired in 2013, also pointed to the fact that Rooney boasts an impressive track record in matches against Manchester City.
Scholes, who now works as a pundit, wrote: “As for United, my key change would be Wayne Rooney back in for Juan Mata. I cannot see Louis van Gaal doing any different.
“The Chelsea game just seemed to pass Mata by on Sunday and that is what will count against him. He seemed to be overpowered. Rooney has a great record against City and he just has to play.”
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Manchester United head into this weekend’s match as the underdogs. The Red Devils have lost two of their last three visits to the Etihad Stadium, and were beaten both home and away by their local rivals under the management of David Moyes last season.
United the in-form side
But United will be buoyed by last weekend’s dramatic 1-1 draw against Chelsea, while Manchester City arrive off the back of consecutive defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who won the Premier League title last season, were beaten 2-1 away at West Ham last Saturday, and followed that up by slumping to a surprise 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.
City will be desperate to bounce back with a win - and who better to beat than their cross-city rivals?
But with captain Rooney back in the fold, United have a better chance of getting something from the match. Some of the standout moments of the England international’s career have come against the Citizens - most notably the stunning overhead kick at Old Trafford in February 2011 - and the striker will be keen to make up for lost time after earning a foolish red card against West Ham last month.
Manchester United fans: Can your side get a positive result at the Etihad? Should Van Gaal drop Mata for Rooney? Have your say in the comments section below.