Preview – The fallen giants take on the new giants of Manchester




Until a few years ago, the Manchester derby was billed as the clash between United and their noisy neighbors. However, a lot of water has flown under the bridge and as the trend in the recent years indicate that City are not just another club from Manchester. In fact, this season, Manchester United have been nowhere near their best and City are the only team that can try to keep the league title in Manchester.

Ahead of the Game: Manchester derby preview

Ahead of the Game: Manchester derby preview

United may be out of the reckoning for the title, but they still have a lot to play for. Not finishing in the top four i.e., a Champions League qualifying spot, would be a disaster for Manchester United, and for that they would need to get as many points as they can from their remaining nine fixtures. The momentum is with United despite falling to Liverpool only ten days ago, after convincing victories against Olympiakos and West Ham.

Manchester City, on the other hand, are enjoying a rich vein of form in the league not having conceded a goal since early February where Chelsea beat them at home. Despite the losses to Barcelona and to Wigan in the FA Cup, City have been a strong unit in the league and come to Old Trafford on the back of a 5-0 thrashing of Fulham and a Yaya Toure hat trick.

Both the teams go into this all important derby with injuries to their first choice strikers. While Pellegrini has ruled out Aguero having any role to play at Old Trafford, Van Persie was stretchered out after scoring his first hat trick in the Champions League in the game against Olympiakos. While Moyes has refused to comment on the fitness of Smalling and Evans, Vidic will serve the second game of his suspension after picking up the red card against Liverpool. It will be interesting to see if Moyes continues to play Carrick at the back after his impressive showing at Upton Park while Mata seemed to enjoy his role behind Wayne Rooney in the attack.

United may have a 59-41 league win record against City in the league but that doesn’t highlight the fact that City have four of their last five encounters with United, including a 4-1 annihilation earlier this season. Manchester United have lost five games at Old Trafford this season, a one-time fortress and City have also come out victorious in their previous two visits to the Theatre of Dreams.

Manchester United may no longer be the force they once were and may be out of the reckoning for the title this year, but they do have with them a golden chance to be the party poopers for their city rivals and give another twist to the title race.

Here are the key battles to look out for in tonight’s encounter:

Rooney vs Kompany: The last time these two teams met at the Etihad, Kompany had the better of Rooney marking him and not giving him any space to weave his magic. Although Rooney did manage to score a freekick in the later stages of the game, it was too little, too late. At Old Trafford, Kompany will be coming back after serving a one match ban while Rooney comes into this game after scoring a brace over the weekend, including an incredible goal from 58 yards out.

Jones vs Silva: In the game against Liverpool, United found it difficult to deal with Raheem Sterling, who played the role of the No.10 to perfection. Against City, Jones will be up against a more experienced and skilled campaigner in the form of David Silva. Since his arrival in England in 2010, Silva has the more assists than any other player in the Premier League. Jones, meanwhile, has been the lynchpin of United’s defence in the absence of Vidic, Smalling, Ferdinand and Evans. Although guilty of conceding a penalty against Liverpool, Jones has put in two magnificent performances over the week in the clean sheet victories over Olympiakos and West Ham.

Kolarov vs Young: Ashley Young, a bit like United’s form, has been very patchy this season but comes into this game on the back of a brilliant performance at Upton Park. Alexander Kolarov has made the left back position his own after a few scintillating performances and has relegated Gael Clichy to the bench. Kolarov, although dangerous while on the counter, may be a bit of a liability in defence and if Ashley Young can use his pace to whip those dangerous crosses in, then United are in with a real chance of causing an upset.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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