I think it’s fair to say the Manchester Derby is becoming a rivalry it’s never been before. When Sheikh Mansour wet his finger, shut his eyes and randomly plucked out which Premier League club he wanted to play with, Manchester City were suddenly thrust into a position to compete with their glorious neighbours and so the local rivalry intensified as City went from a symbol of ridicule to a serious opponent – overnight.
In years gone by United would travel to City’s rented accommodation as favourites, nowadays (as is the case for Sunday) the bookies cannot separate them. One site however is prepared to separate them and Betegy.com recommends backing City at best price 2.30 with Bwin but admits it’s an ‘Extreme Bet’ their complicated algorithm has thrown up.
For me, our biggest rival has always been Liverpool due to the fact they were a successful club, almost as successful as the most successful club in the land. [19:18] Nothing whets the appetite more than a trip to Anfield or a visit from the Scousers but the Manchester Derby is now developing into exactly what it should be, United’s biggest rivalry.
Unlike the once successful Liverpool, City have always found success harder to come by, so hard in fact they even desperately boast their Third Division Playoff Final win in 1999…..as an honour!
So obsessed are City with United, they’ve even modelled their badge on two previously iconic United badges. Surely not true? You make your own mind up >>>>>>>>>>>
Anyway, that’s enough City bashing from me, what about this weekend’s match at The Etihad?
The two sides have met each other 13 times since September 1st 2008 (the day the Sheikh took-over) with United still holding the upper hand. Our record reads: Won 8, Drawn 1, Lost 4. In that period United have scored 21 goals to City’s 19, failed to score just 4 times but also only kept a clean sheet just 4 times. United’s dominance over that period is somewhat skewed by last seasons fixtures where City out-scored United 7-1 with two highly significant results that went a very long way to costing United their 20th League Title.
Current performances see both teams apparently struggling for form despite occupying the top two spots in the Premier League and looking likely to battle out another two-horse race all the way to May next year.
With City struggling for goals but conceding very few; conversely opposed to United scoring goals for fun but leaking goals for fun too; Sunday promises to be a fascinating match where I hope both teams go toe-to-toe and have a proper Derby Day ding-dong to remember! The onus for that to happen is on City, we’re travelling to their neck of the woods and it’s down to them to come at us and see what we’ve got, if they do that I’m sure United will repay the compliment with interest. It’s possible the team that improves on its own current weakness the most – could prove to have the biggest advantage.
As far as tactics go I’m not convinced the often cagey Mancini has it in him to go toe-to-toe with United at this stage of the season whilst sitting 3pts behind us – especially having just been dumped out of the Champions League by recording the lowest ever tally of points by any English team in the knockout stages of the competition.
Having said that, how Sir Alex intends lining up is anyone’s guess. With Valencia, Anderson, Kagawa, Nani and Vidic all ruled out through injury, it appears only Tom Cleverley has any chance of being fit to face City. He (Cleverley), is having a scan on his injured calf today but the boss admits the signs are not good.
The return to fitness of Phil Jones is a welcome boost and the no doubt pumped up Rafael will be looking to prove a point. Robin van Persie gets his first taste of Manchester Derby and after hitting two goals last weekend it’s always possible Wayne Rooney’s about to embark on one of his scoring runs.
If Sir Alex gets his choice of keeper right and United find a way to be strong in midfield to dominate the ball, there’s no reason why we can’t come away with the points and a hat full of goals to move 6pts clear at the top.
This weekend Manchester really aint big enough for the two of us; something’s got to give. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard graft – it’ll be the Red 90% of the city who’ll be gloating come Monday and the blue streets of Stockport will be as gloomy as ever.
Why not check out other stats and predictions for yourself via Betegy.com. The site was reviewed on RedRants earlier in the year and is gradually improving its algorithms and its reputation. Well worth a look if you’re a punter.