Angel di Maria could be suffering from Mesut Özil syndrome

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Sergio Aguero's goal sealed a 1-0 win for Manchester City on Sunday afternoon and mean that they had defeated rivals Manchester United in four consecutive local derbies for the first time since 1970, but there was another worrying sight from the game for Louis van Gaal - Angel di Maria.

Manchester United splashed a record £59.7million to bring the Argentina international to Old Trafford in the summer and early signs had suggested the move was only ever going to be a success, but the last couple of games have sowed some doubts.

Against Manchester City Di Maria was the main outlet for the Red Devils when breaking and he saw plenty of the ball in the opposition half, but there was little end product from what his play and he cut a forlorn figure for much of the second half.

Arsenal fans will relate to their northern rivals, as they saw something very similar this season in their own big-money signing, Mesut Özil. The German became a figure of frustration for many of the Gunners faithful after a series of ineffectual performances.

they are being done a disservice by their respective managers

He has since picked up a serious knee injury and is not expected to be back until the new year, though some mischievous people suggested this was possibly a good thing for the team. While that is really just a silly thing to think or say, there is something in the idea that some time off might be good for him.

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Not because it simply means he is out of the team, but that a bit of a rest was exactly what was required after a first season in Premier League football being followed by a victorious World Cup campaign in Brazil.


A bit of poor form is not the only thing Di Maria and Özil have in common though; they are also both being done a disservice by their respective managers. Arsene Wenger and Van Gaal have both deemed in recent weeks that their respective principal playmakers must be deployed out wide.

Deemed necessary for the more general shape of the teams, this move has only served to subdue Di Maria and Özil - the frustration is clear to see in their expressions when forced to start on the flank.

The most puzzling thing about the Emirates Stadium boss and his counterpart at Old Trafford seemingly believing they must be played in these positions is that the teams as a whole are not exactly performing terrifically well as a result.

A change required?

Both players' best form came when they were given a more central role, where there creative abilities and driving runs could make the biggest difference to matches, but it seems a lack of physical presence in the middle has led the managers to believe it can't be done.

Özil's convalescence could lead to a change of heart from Wenger, who has since moved his side back into a more similar shape to last season and it's probable not coincidence that they could make it four wins in a row on Tuesday against Anderlecht after having previously not managed to get back-to-back wins until a couple of week ago.

having Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to play alongside helps

Meanwhile, the Angel di Maria of Real Madrid last season was a revelation in the closing days of the campaign when he was deployed in a more central role and given licence to pull out wide.

Granted, having Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to play alongside helps, but his best performances so far in a Manchester United shirt have come when asked to do something similar.

Van Gaal and Wenger could be helping themselves by sacrificing some stability to allow room for two of their most gifted players to shine.

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