Well – it is finally here. The 175th derby in all competitions.
By the time 4.30pm arrives on Sunday afternoon I doubt any of us will be able to hear ourselves think above the crescendo of media hype and we will all be desperate for the actual football to begin.
Last season`s fixture at Sold Trafford was scheduled early in the season and definitely showed Maureen`s charges as being undercooked. With the hacks salivating over the first ever clash in the Premier League of the old managerial rivals, they were somewhat stumped when Pep`s men spoiled the party and rather inconveniently failed to read the script emerging 1-2 winners. Ooops.
This may explain why this time around they decided to give Maureen a longer run at it ensuring his squad was settled and better prepared. Well they certainly can`t claim to be under-prepared for this fixture this time around having enjoyed the comforts of home and an extra days rest whilst City, courtesy of the UEFA fixture super computer, faced a 3,000m round trip to the freezing temperatures of the Ukraine to conclude their Champions League group matches against Shakhtar Donetsk.
City opted to remain overnight in the Ukraine and take their 3.5hr return flight to the UK later on Thursday after a light training session. Despite the overall unbeaten run coming to an end I am sure Pep will not be overly upset. Having made seven changes to the team that defeated West Ham; played Fernandinho as a centre back and given starts to youngsters Adarabioyo and Foden (as well as playing the latter as a wing back instead of his usual No 10 role) in a game where the opponents had far more at stake, the disjointed first half would have been disappointing but hardly a surprise. Pundits and media types alike would be rash to read anything substantial into the loss (although I doubt that will stop them) & we can expect a much changed starting XI for Sunday afternoon with the return of some of the missing personnel including Kompany, Otamendi. Walker, Silva D, De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero.
We all know what is at stake at the weekend – a defeat for City and the rag infested media will be all over it declaring that Maureen has hauled Pep back in and that they are in the best place to win the title – after all, it`s always best to be behind your rivals. A win for City would see the lead stretch to 11 points and the media declaring the title race is over . There remains a long way to go in the title race – as we all know, you can be eight points clear with six games to go and still drop the ball can`t you?
Doubtless Maureen will target City`s perceived weakness to high balls into the box from set pieces – certainly we have looked less secure since John Stones has been missing. To this end it might not be a surprise to see Elbows Fellaini start given that karma has dictated that Carlton ‘the hairdo` Pogba will miss the game through suspension. Perhaps at a later stage we may see an appearance from the snide Ibrahimovic. Should this occur Otamendi and all of City`s defenders had better be wary of his tendency to deploy the dark arts whenever he is the wrong side of the officials. They may need to also be aware of Lurkakakoo`s swinging legs – it seems trying to kick your opponent in the nether region is acceptable to the FA whilst engaging in an exuberant and perhaps over-animated conversation with an opposition player after the final whistle requires you to explain yourself and then be “reminded of your responsibilities”.
Now that the Champion`s League group stage games are out of the way I expect the media to go into hyperdrive as they build this game up to be the Biggest Game in the History of World Football. I plan to avoid it at all costs and will be ignoring the rags who say that they don`t care about the derby – they only say this before the game and if they lose.
Rest assured Pep will have his plans and will instruct his players to continue delivering the same high standard of football they have been gracing the league with all season. We need to be wary of set pieces for sure and be very wary of counter-attacks – they have pace in the side and will look to soak up pressure and break fast. We have to hope that De Gea has had his ‘purple patch` game this season after his masterclass against Arsenal – remarkable goalkeeping and perhaps above all I would suggest that this is a game where more than ever getting the first goal will have a huge impact. One thing Maureen does install in his teams is defensive strength and whilst City have shown resilience in the last few league matches in securing late goals I suspect that trying to break them down in an effort to secure an equaliser or winner as the clock ticks down would present one of the most challenging tasks we could come up against.
It would also do little for the blood pressure or heart rates of Blues fans so I am much more in favour of City getting an early goal.
Let`s hope it`s a good game and that Mr Oliver doesn`t have any controversial calls to make.
Come on City!!!
Referee – Michael Oliver
Assistants – Gary Beswick, Simon Bennett
Fourth Official – Jonathan Moss
The first meeting between the two clubs took place on 12th November 1881when St Mark`s (West Gorton) hosted Newton Heath.
The current overall record stands at 72 wins for the Stretford Galacticos, 50 victories for City and 52 draws.
Stats** comparison (Premier League):-
Goals per game – 2.3
Avg Possesion – 52.2%
Pass Accuracy – 82.5%
Shots per game – 14.1
Discipline – 21Y, 1R
Goals per game – 3.1
Avg Possesion – 66.4%
Pass Accuracy – 88.8%
Shots per game – 18
Discipline – 27Y, 2R
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored.com
The Stretford Galacticos will be without Pogba due to suspension (Karma) & Bailly (groin) & Carrick (heart conduction – best wishes to him). Jones is a slight doubt as are Elbows Fellaini and Matic. Allegedly?..trust me, their names will be on the team sheet and Matic will start.
Manchester City await on the fitness of David Silva – apparently left out of the squad for the trip to the Ukraine due to a minor knock. Stones is out until the end of the year at least & of course the recuperating Mendy remains absent. Apart from his rushes down the touchline to secure social media posts.
Potential starting XI, subs & formation
Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D
Sterling, Aguero, Sané
Bravo, Mangala, Danilo, Toure, Silva B, Foden, G Jesus
Read more: https://manchestercity.vitalfootball.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=34381#ixzz50ZABZ8Xg
Manchester Utd v Manchester City – Match Preview
Well – it is finally here. The 175th derby in all competitions.