The big one is upon us. Both teams come into the game in slightly unconvincing form, United have stuttered of late, especially away from home. But they’ve managed to churn out good results whilst City lost three on the bounce before the win at the weekend against West Brom. United fans are already complaining about their lack of players available for this fixture but there’s no use in moaning, they’ll just have to put up with Ji Sung Park starting in a derby. HAHA!
“For City fans it’s always the first game that they look for, and they are the people we are playing for. We want to give them something to talk about on Thursday morning and hopefully they can go home with a smile on their faces. We are playing for ourselves, but we are playing for our club and the fans have been so loyal to us that we want to pay them back.
‘Last season it was heartbreaking to watch, let alone to play in,’ he adds. ‘I was gutted for the lads, but they gave really good accounts of themselves. They brought the best out of United, it also brought the best out of Manchester City and the games could have swung one or the other. It just happened to go United’s way, but all four games could have gone to either team.
‘For an outsider looking in, it seemed to be standard procedure for United to be winning titles but it is not that way anymore. There are a lot of good teams out there and we would like ourselves to be included. It makes things more exciting for the league and I am excited to be part of it.
‘I think United demand respect, they do score a lot of late goals but it is not easy to do that. They have world class players who can do that, but if you look at our squad we have five or six who can do that. United are aware of that, so are we and that is what makes this such an exciting game.’
Nigel de Jong:
‘Our fans are brilliant, they just keep on supporting us. They have always been such a helping hand as a 12th man, especially at derbies. I’ve played in a couple now and there’s always massive support for the team.
‘You can see and hear at every away game that they are at full strength, so the message is: just keep that going! The confidence is there in the squad that we can pay them back on the pitch. Derbies are always huge games. It’s an important season for Manchester City but also for Manchester United. Everybody knows what went on between the teams last season. This season it’s going to be even bigger!
‘They get bigger and bigger, especially if you see the hype that goes back and forth in the media. But it’s a good thing for City, it means we get bigger as a club, and everybody is up for it. We can’t wait.
‘I love playing against anybody. There’s no particular player I want to play against – or don’t want to play against. I protect the back four – whether that’s against West Bromwich or Manchester United doesn’t matter.’
‘They know now we are a strong team, the situation has changed. We have great respect for them, but we know we can be better than them now. It should be a good game. We played at the same level over the last few derbies, and we only lost in the last minute. That’s important to remember, but we are a different team this season. There are two good squads for tomorrow night, so anything could happen.
‘United play to the last second, they beat Wolves late because they have a strong mentality. They have won a lot of trophies, and that is what happens when you win over a long time. But we matched them last season and we have to remember that.’
‘It`s a different type of derby from the Liverpool game,’ the United manager told his pre-match press conference. ‘The Liverpool game is one of honour in terms of trophies won. We`re undoubtedly the two most successful clubs in British football, so when we meet it`s a different type of derby game.
‘Now, derby games between ourselves and City are of great intensity built up by a media explosion, what City are doing and trying to achieve in their own way and the fact we`re both in the same city. There`s an incredible intensity in this derby game now, which wasn`t there maybe 10-15 years ago.’
‘There`s nothing more satisfying than winning a derby game. It doesn`t matter what year it is or when (during the game) it is.’
“It was nice [referring to his match-winning header] but it was only three points at the end of the day. I don`t think we`re firing on all cylinders,” he admits. “For one reason or another it hasn`t quite happened up until now. We`ve been slow starters for the last few years and normally come into it around this time. Hopefully we can start getting a bit of that form going now.
“There`s no doubt City are a top team, they have spent a lot of money on quality players and they`ve had a great start to the season. They lost their way for a few games recently but, as people say, form goes out the window in these games. Anything can happen on derby day.”
“The derby`s always been important, for both players and fans. Every derby game I`ve played in has always been a massive game with a great atmosphere. Perhaps City fans expect a bit more these days than they have in the past, and rightly so when you consider the money they`ve spent and the players they`ve bought. City fans expect their team to be beating United now. Maybe in the past that hasn`t always been the case.”
Manchester City Team News:
Roberto Mancini has a relatively full strength squad to pick from. Only the suspended Mario Balotelli and the recovering Michael Johnson are absent. Emmanuel Adebayor tweaked a muscle in training on Monday but was back in training today which suggests that he could make the bench. I expect James Milner to replace Mario Balotelli, offering us a more industrious option from midfield.
The only other change I expect Mancini to make is bringing Aleksandar Kolarov in for Pablo Zabaleta at left back who in fairness, did a brilliant job in that position against West Brom. Otherwise, I`m predicting exactly the same side that beat the Baggies, possibly with a slightly more compact midfield due to the addition of Milner.
Therefore, I expect the team to look like the following:
Probable City Team:
17) Boateng – 28) K Toure – 4) Kompany – 13) Kolarov
21) Silva – 42) Y Toure – 34) de Jong – 18) Barry – 7) Milner
Player to watch: David Silva.
All the hype will surround Carlos Tevez, the one who ‘betrayed` the Old Trafford mob. But I think it will be Silva who will have the biggest effect on proceedings. United know just how much of a threat Tevez is; he netted three times over two games in the Carling Cup. Therefore, I`m expecting Baconface to order his defenders to double-up on the Argentine whenever he receives the ball. This is all well and good against a lone frontman like Fernando Torres, but City now boast a second striker in their armoury, who goes by the name of David Silva. I`m expecting Silva to exploit the gaps left when United rush to swamp Tevez. And if there`s one player at City you don`t want to allow time on the ball, it`s the Spaniard.
Manchester United Team News:
Poor old Fergie, he`s got no players to pick from. On the physio table sit Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Michael Owen, Owen Hargreaves, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs – all of whom are definitely out. Nani is rated as doubtful but I think Baconface is bluffing with this one and Nani may yet start tomorrow`s match. And just to add to the fun, camp United has also been struck down with a virus effecting the likes of Berbatov, Carrick and Vidic. But all those players are expected to pull through and start.
Probable United Team:
1) Van der Sar
21) Rafael – 5) Ferdinand – 15) Vidic – 3) Evra
16) Carrick – 18) Scholes – 24) Fletcher
17) Nani – 9) Berbatov – 13) Park
Player to watch: Paul Scholes.
We too know exactly how dangerous Scholes is when given time on the ball, he`s arguably the best passer of a football in the division. In the last derby he had a field day – our midfield sat back and allowed Scholes to pick his passes at his own pace. The only way to rattle him is to get right up in his face and attempt to block his options off before any runs are made. Scholes makes United tick. And in a midfield containing Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, [who incidentally aren`t the best passers in the world] if you can nullify the ginger then you`re well on your way to halting United`s invention.
Match Facts & Stats
Manchester United have won their last four Premier League derbies against City, since a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in February 2008.
City are looking to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium for the first time in two years – since losing to Manchester United and Everton between November and December 2008.
The Blues have failed to win any of the three league matches in which they have conceded the opening goal this season.
United are the only unbeaten team in the country (all competitions).
United have scored at least twice in 10 of their 11 league games this season. The only club to stop them scoring was Sunderland in a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on 2 October.
Chris Foy is the man who holds the key. He was the referee that ovesaw Huddlestone’s shocking stamp last week; that says it all really.
I simply cannot wait. The atmosphere should be electric. But expect this to be a very tight game – United lack penetration while I expect City`s midfield triangle to try and swamp the middle of the park. Yaya Toure should play in a position similar to which he occupied on Sunday; playing further ahead of both Barry and de Jong, looking to support the attack. And once again, I think he could hold the key – if he can link deep midfield with our attacking front three then I think we can cause United some real problems. After all, he`s due a goal when he next goes on one of his trademark bulldozing gallops up the pitch. Anyway, I`m confident about this one. I just can`t see where United goals are going to come from. And for that reason I predicting a City win. Prediction: MCFC 2 – 1 United.
Saturday, 13th November v Birmingham @ 15:00 (H)
Sunday, 21st November v Fulham @ 16:00 (A)