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DERBY DAY – MANCHESTER CITY vs. MANCHESTER UNITED - PREVIEW

Published: Friday, December 7, 2012

Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 22:12

 

It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The top two teams in the table will battle it out on Sunday for much more than bragging rights. Man City has shown that they are the noisy neighbors in United’s quest for their 20th title. Currently, the defending champions sit three points behind United in the league table. A win for City will propel them to the top of the table, level on points with United, while a win for United will establish a decent gap between the two, giving them a comfort zone. Apart from this being a derby, the stakes can’t get higher than this.

TEAM NEWS

MANCHESTER CITY:The most important thing for City will be the fitness of David Silva who will be subject to a late fitness test. The Spaniard has triggered a sort of a good run for the Citizens and his form will be pivotal if they have to get anything out of this game. Samir Nasri has not shown the promise he showed at Arsenal and his position in the starting lineup is a big question. Aleksander Kolarov is also injured and that is also a big loss because he has shown the versatility to play in both the left back and left midfield position. Apart from that, there are no fitness concerns and this is a team that may strike form when it matters the most. Roberto Mancini looks set to play a formation with two strikers upfront, mostly Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli/Carlos Tevez.

MANCHESTER UNITED: The United defence has looked shaky throughout the season and will be bolstered by the return of Phil Jones to full team action. Nemanaja Vidic, Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverly and Anderson look set to miss out on the game with injuries and this will mean that either Paul Scholes or Darren Fletcher will start alongside Michael Carrick in the midfield. Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to play two strikers with Wayne Rooney starting alongside Robin Van Persie. He will also look to stretch the pitch with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.

KEY BATTLES

Robin Van Persie vs. Vincent Kompany: Vincent Kompany has not been in the same form that made him the best defender last season. If he does continue his current form, then it will be very tough to stop Robin Van Persie, who has been the standout performer for Manchester United. Since he has stayed out of the doctor’s table, Van Persie has been influential in almost all of United’s wins. His link-up play with Wayne Rooney has been phenomenal and only someone as good as Kompany will be able to stop him.

Michael Carrick vs. Yaya Toure: Yaya Toure has been the driving force for Man City for the last two seasons. If Javi Garcia is handed the holding midfielder role, then that leaves Toure free to play a box-to-box role, coordinating with the attack and protecting the defense at the same time. His runs have been powerful and incisive, making him very hard to mark. Michael Carrick has sat in front of the defence this season and has protected the defenders from most attacks. He has also been pivotal in the supply to the forwards. If Toure does get the better of him, then David Silva/Nasri will be given a free role to exploit the space between the midfield and defense. In many ways, this is the defining battle of the game and will decide which way the game goes.

PREDICTION

Manchester City has not lost at home for the last 36 games. There is always a first time for everything. But City just has too much firepower to overcome Manchester United. But knowing Manchester United’s never-say-die spirit and the inconsistent City defence, this may make for a humdinger of a game with lots of goals. I can say that City will edge the game with a 3-2 score. 

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