It`s the clash of the giants, the clash of the titans, all rolled into one. It`s a fixture that the Premier League has been anticipating for several weeks now as United welcome their ‘noisy neighbours` to Old Trafford for a titanic showdown. With the world watching, let`s hope we`re all talking about the football come the final whistle tomorrow evening.
Do games get much bigger than this?
Top v second and a city rivalry thrown in!
Ahead of the clash Darren Fletcher has spoken about the intense rivalry between the two clubs, commenting to the news hounds,
“In previous years it was bragging rights in the city if you won. Now it`s a lot more now.”
“It`s huge in terms of the points at stake and where the title may end up at the end of the season.”
“City did the double over us in 2008 but we went on to win the league.”
“But now take those six points away from us and to them would be massive in terms of the title.”
We`d better make sure we don`t lose then Darren!
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson goes into this fixture with his squad in relative good health, apart for the injury that`ll keep Ryan Giggs out. The only questions that remain unanswered relate to who he`ll select.
Despite being sent off in midweek, in the Champions League, Vidic remains eligible and should start, but whether that`s alongside the experienced Ferdinand or young Jones remain to be seen.
Up front we`d imagine Ferguson will go with Rooney and Hernandez with only the midfield being the area he may fool us all in.
We`ll take a guess and go for a starting eleven of:-
De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Jones, Evra, Nani, Anderson, Fletcher, Young, Rooney, Hernandez.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
The villain turned hero will be desperate to match his winning overhead kick from the last encounter at Old Trafford. City know the threat he possesses and they`ll be out to keep a close watch on him, but with Wayne dropping deep he could just pull someone out of a defence that will probably be protected by two holding midfielders.
City Team News:
Roberto Mancini has stockpiled talent, in the past two years, that makes most clubs (apart from us) envious. Whether he can gel the enormous amount of talent he has at his disposal and take them the distance remains the unanswered question.
They say that all true geniuses are flawed and looking at two of City`s gang it`d be hard to argue against that.
Carlos Tevez remains an enigma who does what he wants whilst putting the mad Mario Balottelli in charge of their Christmas party should ensure that City hit the front pages as well as the back pages come December.
But they do have some decent players – Adam Johnson, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Sami Nasri, David Silva, Toure (x2) to name but a few, but they`re not invincible and can be got at, you wait and see!
Player to watch: Sergio Aguero
The little Argentine is the best player on City`s books and could turn this derby in an instant, keep a tight reign on him lads or else our title dreams could take a giant knock.
Match Facts & Stats
Taking a look at the managers, they`ve faced each other 7 times and Sir Alex has the edge winning 4 of those encounters as opposed to the 2 Mancini has won, with the other being a draw.
Looking at Premier League games between the two sides, United are unbeaten in the last 6, winning 5 and drawing the other.
The last five meetings between the clubs have finished as follows:-
7th Aug 2011 – Manchester City 2 United 3 (Community Shield)
16th April 2011 – Manchester City 1 United 0 (FA Cup )
12th February 2011 – United 2 Manchester City 1 (Premier League)
10th November 2010 – Manchester City 0 United 0 (Premier League)
17th April 2010 – Manchester City 0 United 1 (Premier League)
I have this feeling that City will come and shut up shop, they`ll try to hold what they`ve got, play a tight back four, play two defensive midfielders and stick one player up front on his own on the off chance of grabbing something.
If so the game would benefit enormously from an early goal to open it up.
I may be wrong and Mancini may throw his Italian caution to the wind, play three forwards and try to exploit those gaps in our defence that have been noticeable this season.
Either way it promises to be a fascinating encounter which I reckon we`ll win by the odd goal in three!
In midweek we resume our Carling Cup duties with a real David and Goliath tie against Aldershot Town at the Recreation Ground in Hampshire.