The arrival of sunny closures within Manchester has signaled the arrival of spring but make no mistake, this Manchester Derby would be played with coldness all over the pitch. There are several obvious reasons which I wouldn’t go into in detail, although the enmity and the coldness is bound to take flight towards the next level as the Red Devils of Manchester United who are the champions elect already, are set to thwart the Blues from Manchester to yet another Premier League title; this one being their dominant title in years if they do so.
Manchester United’s Superiority
2012-13 season would surely be remembered by Manchester United fans all over the world as it would put clear daylight in terms of Premier League titles if they win, which everyone are sure that they would. In addition, this would be considered as yet another season where Sir Alex has lived on to fight yet another challenge from yet another Premier League Team and it could get no better than thwarting their fiercest derby rivals, Manchester City. Many a football addict thought that this season would be yet another repeat of Manchester City’s lethal domination, which has been proven wrong by the mighty Red Devils once again.
The current season has been built smoothly both in terms of strategy and the capability of the players; and Sir Alex has played his cards to nimble perfectness. It has been evident that United were flying off to being ruthless with their attack at the front, just when the season was as fresh as a dew drop. But as their tired legs gave away combined together with the current blip in form of their newly added frontman Van Persie, once again Sir Alex and the Red Devils have coped it up by putting nervous yet stupendous performances towards the tail end of the season at the back with a Solid Defense. Statistics also says that they have won 25 out of the first 30 games being the 1st ever top flight team to have achieved such a feat. Such has their superiority that they have managed to pull off 6 successive clean sheets as well going into this derby game, which they hardly managed in the entire 19 games in the 1st half. Surely, the Red Devils’ superiority has been tactically played like a grandmaster pulling off his moves on a chess board, thereby outsmarting the Blue Moons of the other side of Manchester by 15 points.
Manchester City’s Problems
Rewinding back to the same point last season, Manchester City were 5 points behind Manchester united with 7 games left. Rest they say is history, as City cut through a dramatic 8 points lead of Manchester United in the span of 7 games to win the title. They had a ruthless attacking front line-up of Tevez-Balloteli-Aguero-Dzeko with 75 goals scored between them and had a solid defense giving away a mere 25 goals, 2 lesser than Manchester United at the same point. Fast forwarding to the same point this season, they are 15 points behind their derby rivals having scored 20 goals lesser than the last season and have given away 1 goal more than the previous season at the same point. Surely there seems to be fire burning the cauldron hot, isn’t it?
Working backwards if one could see, Roberto Mancini had a striker in the name of Balloteli who had been misfiring right from their preseason matches (remember the empty net. back heel goal scoring chance that Balloteli had missed against an MLS side?) and carrying this deep into the 1st half of their season. Aguero has never been the same as last season, which is justifiable as he was their go-to player last season sweating blood every time he got a chance in front of the goal. Tiredness could be the reason here. Tevez was never really used until this point, where Balloteli had been sold off & Dzeko being their Super sub had been moved to a new role of starting games, thus showing Roberto Mancini’s desperation and his team’s lack of goals this season. Their midfield engine hasn’t really revved up much, with Silva and Ya Ya Toure being injured in periods for some parts of the season. Their rock at the back had been disturbed as well, with Vincent Kompany being sidelined for a prolonged period with yet another injury. All these are the reasons that have led to Manchester City’s obvious problems, thus finding themselves 15 points and well on track to surrender their title to their derby rivals.
Consistency is the key to winning honours and Manchester United have taken this very serious. Undefeated for 18 straight league games from mid-November, 6 clean sheets in the last 6 matches; speaks volumes for their form. While Manchester City on the other hand have found it difficult to reproduce their consistency from last season, as their last 6 matches gives us a perfect triangular wave pattern if plotted.
But if signs indicate anything, Manchester United have pulled off nervous wins in their last 6 games the recent being their victory at Sunderland. While Manchester City have shown signs of their attacking football being supreme having Newcastle United subjected to a 4-0 thrashing.
This Manchester derby would be a game between United’s stupendous defense vs City’s charging attack; sure enough to provide us with yet another spectacle as the previous derby games have given us. While Sir Alex and his defenders will be wary about their humiliating 1-6 loss last season, Mancini and his attacking men would relish this moment to throw yet another humiliation at their neighbouring rivals, especially in what has been a disappointing campaign.
After missing their last match at Sunderland and their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in an FA cup replay, Wayne Rooney returns back to the team. Rafael who missed the FA cup replay with a groin strain, is fit enough to be selected with Vidic and Evans being a 50-50 starter for the game.
Manchester United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Buttner, Nani, Valencia, Powell, Carrick, Anderson, Cleverley, Giggs, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck.
David Silva and Samir Nasri are fit to start the game after taking slight knocks in the last week’s victory over Newcastle united, while defender Nastasic makes a comeback as well. Defender Micah Richards and midfielder Maicon are ruled out with knee injuries respectively, as the other midfielder Jack Rodwell is close to making a comeback after struggling with a hamstring injury.
Man City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Nastasic, K Toure, Kolarov, Clichy, Milner, Nasri, Sinclair, Y Toure, Barry, Garcia, Rodwell, Silva, Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko.
The Theater of Dreams will be burning hot tomorrow with two of the fiercest derby rivals go head to head to bring each other down with vengeance, retribution and pride at stake. This is one match, where a certain moment of brilliance or madness could seal the deal. Thereby, we at Soccersouls predict that the best team wins, in the spirit of the game.
A Blast from the past
- Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United; A game that most City Fans would be hard done by, where United emerged victorious right at the last kick of the ball.
[youtube width=”500″ height=”300″]NWg6XxDtHkg[/youtube]
- Manchester United 1 – 6 Manchester City; a thumping that made the Entire world watch in shock, as United were left behind with their worst defeat last season at their own backyard. (The goals are towards the end of the video link).
[youtube width=”500″ height=”300″]n4Cly-FElnY[/youtube]