Manchester United v Manchester City
If there was ever proof that City have in fact arrived, it has come in the most unlikely of forms. It’s not the lavish outlays on Adebayor, Tevez and co. It’s not the club’s best ever start to a Premier League campaign nor the dismantling of Arsenal last week. No boys and girls it is the fact Sir Alex ‘Taggart’ Ferguson has deemed us worthy of his whiskey soaked brand of mind games.
That’s right, we are a small minded club who are cocky and arrogant and although our clubs share the same first name, we are in no way considered his ‘derby’. Someone should hand him a dictionary. A poster within the borders of Manchester costing £48,000 generated over £11M in advertising within it’s first week? Maybe Taggart should try being a little ‘small minded’ and then his club wouldn’t be facing financial meltdown at the moment. However we really do have to accept the charge of being cocky and arrogant, after all the grand master of cocky arrogance is the one levelling the charge. Fair do’s Alex.
Obviously the major omission this weekend will be Adebayor with the striker serving the first of his three match ban imposed this week. Robinho and Benjani are all definitely taking up bed space in the physioroom this weekend with Tevez, Kompany, Johnson and Santa Cruz all a very slim chance, however should any of them be fit, only Tevez would be in line for a start. Stephen Ireland and Micah Richards have both had recent niggling injuries but both should be 100% for the weekend.
Paul Scholes will be missing from United’s lineup after his dismissal in the Spurs game last weekend. Van der Sar, Obertan and Hargreaves are all on the casualty list with Rafael and more importantly Ferdinand a doubt for the weekend after reinjuring his calf.
Last Time Out.
Manchester City 4-2 Arsenal
In a game overshadowed by the Man City media circus, it was almost easy to overlook a devastating display from the men in blue. After leading for most of the game when they were finally challenged by Arsenal, City found another gear destroyed an Arsenal side that struggled to come up with answers. If Arsenal were concerned that their perennial 4th spot was under threat, this display would have done little to console them.
Tottenham 1-3 Man United
After scoring within the first minute Spurs forgot to keep playing and their suspected defensive frailties were exposed. A late sucker punch after United were down to 10 men settled the issue and Rooney bagged his 5th in 5 games to lead all scorers in the premier league.
Last Meeting. (Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City)
For the first time in a long time the game seemed devoid of the heat and passion that usually accompanies Manchester derbies. United claimed both goals in the first half with a deflected goal from current Real Madrid midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo breaking a somewhat monotonous first half with proceedings brought to a close with a powerful strike from another departee, Carlos Tevez, who finally made it into Manchester after two seasons on the wrong side of Deansgate. The second half was even duller as the game wound down to a disappointing 2-0 loss.
The Good Stuff.
2002-03 : 3-1(h) & 1-1(a)
Shaun Goater etched his name in stone as a Manchester City legend by not only scoring two goals in the home win and inspiring the song “Gary Neville’s a blue, he feeds the goat.” But in the away fixture coming off the bench and scoring 9 seconds later, a record that was broken last season by Nicklas Bendtner.
2005-06 : 1-1(a) & 3-1(h)
It was a Joey Barton inspired bustling display that ground out a 1-1 draw in the away fixture that made it 13 games unbeaten in the league for Stuart Pearce’s Manchester City. The home leg was a much more comfortable 3-1 win with Robbie Fowler forgetting who he was playing for by reminding the United fans how many European trophies Liverpool have. Hmm, taunted the United fans after scoring the third goal, there’s something I can’t put my finger on here, luckily the United fans didn’t riot that day or Ade…oops…Fowler could have been in trouble.
2007-08 : 1-0(h) & 2-1(a)
City fans set a new record in the home tie after Geovanni’s wonderstrike from 25 yards after 31 minutes, 44,000 fans proved it was possible to hold your breath for the next 59. After some close calls it seemed the City goal was in fact protected by the collective will of everyone in the stadium wearing blue. The away fixture was the 50th anniversary of Manchester City being impeccable and Martin Petrov proved that having a marker doesn’t mean they actually have to defend you, as he sliced through the United defence for the first eventually finished by Vassell and delivered a pinpoint cross to Benjani’s shoulder, proof that it’s better to be lucky than good. A late consolation goal to yet another player United “didn’t tap up” wasn’t enough to dampen the City spirits and 60,000 startled londoners started their long journey south to something they hadn’t heard in their swamp pit for a while, it was called singing.
Manchester City – Kolo Toure
City’s side these days is littered with heroes and some less obvious than others. Kolo Toure has been nothing short of magnificent since arriving at Eastlands. His marshalling of the defence, reading of the game, tackling and composure on the ball have been amazing to watch after two years of lunge defending from City. Even Micah looks back to his best alongside Kolo with the two linking almost flawlessly. Another performance from City’s new captain fantastic and scoring for United might prove too much of a prospect.
Manchester United– Wayne Rooney
With the absence of Ronaldo, Rooney has started the season in scoring form and has a goal a game so far this campaign. If City are to win it is imperative that they keep him quiet. If De Jong and Barry form up their fortress like protective wall for the back four, Rooney’s supply will be cut off from the source and could be a frustrating afternoon for the England striker.
Who’s the idiot who predicts a score in the Manchester derby? Merson says 2-0 and Lawrenson says 2-1, with that braintrust both tipping a United win I would say that’s a ringing endorsement for City to make it five from five.