And so we come to the small matter of our first derby match of the season with United making the short trip to the Etihad Stadium. The fixture pitches top (us) against second (City), with the winner knowing the result could have a huge influence on the outcome of the title race. With a 3:30 kick-off, this fixture really is one to give up the Sunday roast for. It`s intrigue has captured the nation and rumours are in circulation that even Tom Cruise, on the advice of David Beckham, will be zooming in to watch it live. Can United get a win on foreign soil, we`ll just have to wait and see.
Already the derby has prompted a fierce exchange of words in the pre-match press conferences with Sir Alex Ferguson delivering the first blow, remarking about City`s tendency to be awarded penalties at the Eitihad,
“The late penalty kicks they get. It`s 21 in the last year, something like that.”
“If we were to get that number of penalty kicks there would be protests in the House of Commons.”
Absolute classic Ferguson, although Roberto Mancini`s response also get top marks with the City boss remarking,
“I remember very well last season when Young was swimming.”
It`s all boiling up rather nicely isn`t it!
Manchester City Team News:
Roberto Mancini will be hoping that the influential Spaniard, David Silva, is able to shake off the hamstring injury that threatens him being in contention for a starting place. Also looking to overcome injuries that may side-line them are James Milner and Gael Clichy. However, having signed up anything that moves over the past two years, we`re sure that Mancini will be able to muster up a starting eleven of some quality.
Player to watch: Carlos Tevez
The Argentine striker and one-time United hero, will be desperately looking to get one over his old club, let`s hoping he doesn`t take advantage of what has been a fragile defence in recent weeks.
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson has a few injury concerns. Tom Cleverley picked up a knock in the Champions League encounter with FC Cluj and is rated as doubtful whilst Anderson, who has made such a difference when playing recently, is out for three weeks with a hamstring injury joining Nemanja Vidic and Shinji Kagawa on the treatment table.
Player to watch: Robin van Persie
The Dutchman had the chance to join City, in the summer, but chose United, much to our relief. Here`s hoping that Robin can deliver a killer blow and lift us further clear of City at the top of the table.
Match Facts & Stats
Ahead of the game, we`ve uncovered a couple of interesting statistics for you.
In the 30 Premier League meetings between the two clubs, United lead the way with 17 wins to the miserly 7 of our neighbours.
Looking at fixtures between the two managers, it is a little closer. They`ve crossed swords 10 times with Sir Alex having won 5 and Roberto Mancini 4
Our officials for this encounter are:-
Referee – M. Atkinson
Assistant – P. Kirkup
Assistant – S. Burt
Fourth Official – M. Clattenburg
This is a tough one to call. It really could go either way. If our defence is as loose as it was against Reading Sir Alex is probably right when he says we`ll get turned over. But if it is as resilient as we know it can be, we could carve out a valuable win. Personally, I just have this feeling we`ll not lose this one and the worst we`ll come away with is a draw.
Our next fixture will see us entertain Sunderland next Saturday afternoon, at 15:00 hours.