The time has come; the time has come to decide who`ll take the honours in the first Manchester derby this season. The stakes are high, both teams realising that a win would solidify their hopes of hanging onto the shirt-tails of Chelsea at the top of the table. But most importantly of all, there`s the small issue of pride at stake! Can you imagine the shame of going into work, on Thursday morning; having lost to the blue half of the city?
For some there is no better derby in the domestic calendar. A blue v red clash that divides a city, divides house and encompasses everything good about the wonderful city that is Manchester.
Paul Scholes, still as efficient as ever at the heart of our midfield has his own views on what the derby means, remarking,
“The derby still gets me going – there`s no bigger game than the derby.”
“It`s a massive game for both teams and one we will both want to win.”
“Maybe now, people will fancy City because they are at home. We know it will be difficult going to their place but we`ll give it a go and hopefully get the right result.”
No hope about it Paul, we`re coming to take all three points on offer!
Manchester City Team News:
Under-fire Roberto Mancini will be without one of his leading strikers after Mario Balotelli saw red in the recent win against West Bromwich Albion, thereby earning the volatile youngster a three match ban.
I guess Mancini will just have to plunder the resources at his disposal in the City locker-room, either that or play Carlos Tevez on his own up front.
City`s extravagant expenditure has seen a glut of good players arrive at Eastlands with the likes of Milner, Toure and Da Silva added to an already inflated squad last summer.
But having such a large squad has created problems and the likes of Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips, expensive signings, are now seen as surplus to requirements whilst Craig Bellamy (probably one of their better players last season) has been shipped off on loan to Cardiff of all places, he must have upset someone big time.
Player to watch: Joe Hart
I have a feeling that, despite Patrice Evra claiming Tevez is the best player City have to offer, Hart is destined for greatness between the posts. Currently keeping the excellent Shay Given out of the side, I have a feeling Hart will be having a busy evening, let`s see how he copes under the pressure and glare of a Manchester derby!
Manchester United Team News:
You get the feeling Sir Alex has had this fixture pencilled din his diary since the fixture list came out although he would have been hoping to play it without so many injuries in his squad.
Definitely out of contention are Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen, Owen Hargreaves and Wayne Rooney whilst Ryan Giggs is rated as doubtful and there will also be concerns about Nani who missed the fixture against Wolves on Saturday. Hopefully those who missed the trip to Turkey, Anderson, Macheda and Gibson, will have gotten the bug well and truly out of the system. Although rumours are reaching us that the same bug is also troubling Dimitar Berbatov!
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez
City may have splashed millions and millions but we`ve discovered our own little gem who, we`re sure, will outshine anything City have to offer. Step forward young man, Wednesday night is your ideal stage, show everybody you`ve got the X-factor!
Match Facts & Stats
Manchester United enter this fixture on the back of a 24 game unbeaten, in all competitions, run. City, on the other hand, are looking to get their season back on track having suffered blips in both the Premier League and the Europa League (shocking fall from grace).
Last time-out City won 2-0 at West Brom whilst we grabbed a very late goal to beat Wolves.
Last season our paths crossed four times with United four times with United winning three of those fixtures an din the process knocking City out of the Carling Cup, and so close to Wembley as well (shucks).
In the last five league clashes United hold the upper hand winning four whilst City`s last success was back in 2007/12008 when they pulled off a shock win at Old Trafford.
Last five league clashes
? 2009/2010 – City 0 United 1
? 2009/2010 – United 4 City 3
? 2008/2009 – United 2 City 0
? 2008/2009 – City 0 United 1
? 2007/2008 – United 1 City 2
Interestingly, returning to those fixtures last season, did we rub salt in those wounds or not, with all those late winners?
Chris Foy is the man given the task of keeping things on a civil level!
The blue half may bay for our blood but they`ll not get it! United are going to Eastlands to do a job. It may not be pretty, it may be frantic and it may not be that graceful on the eye but three points are coming our way and City will be left to lick their wounds (again), we`re going 2-1 to United!
After the journey across Manchester we head south, to Villa Park, to take on an old adversary in Gerrard Houllier, who is now in charge at Villa Park!