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All eyes on Manchester as United try to seal Premier League title

Wayne RooneyPre-season, this derby was billed as the season defining game for both teams. The title race would be so close again that only a gnat’s breath would be able to separate them.

However, never have football ‘experts’ been so wrong. City have stumbled whilst United have stepped up and obliterated the rest. But, as with all derbies, this doesn’t mean the fans care less about this edition of the Manchester derby. Both sets of supporters are still desperate for the sweet elixir of victory.

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Monday night’s game has been predictably framed around the last time City visited Old Trafford (that’ll be the last time I mention that!) yet, unlike that fateful day, only one team is coming into this fixture somewhat on form. City are lacking in performances this year, taking 11 points from the last possible 21 and only winning one away game in the last four, a run that includes losses to Everton and Southampton.

Manchester United’s home form is, on the other hand, impeccable. Much like the two previous seasons, the title winning team have built their charge on the foundation of home performances, and this year, apart from the momentary blip against totenham, United have won every home game and haven’t lost home or away since Norwich away back in November.

Arguably, City have more to play for, with their ego already battered, bruised and discarded into the gutter after a harrowing and brittle title defence. But, their Manchester counterparts have the incentive that, if they win tonight, not only will they complete the double (home & away wins over City in the same season) and thus wrest back the bragging rights that were lost so ignominiously last year, but only a mere 4 more points would be needed to secure the title.

If you are to believe Mancini’s recent desperate ravings, injuries are a mitigating factor and a reason for why he shouldn’t be blamed for the tepid season, forgetting of course the swathes of mishaps that cut through the United squad last year.

Luckily for Mancini, they have an almost fresh team ready for the title run in (ahem). Only Jack Rodwell, their eternally cropped midfielder and long term absentee Micah Richards currently reside in the medical room. For United, Wayne Rooney and Rafael should return, whilst Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic are doubts.

Match up

Roberto Mancini Alex FergusonIf previous big games line ups are to be replicated today, Ferguson will opt for
4-4-2, yet with the paucity of in-form wingers on offer at the moment, he could shape something slightly different. None of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young or Nani fill you with too much confidence at the moment, but perhaps Valencia offers the most tactical discipline whilst live-wire Nani demonstrates occasional brilliance in attack. Young is more dependable and has often been chosen by Ferguson against City, but due to the lack of options, Ryan Giggs could slot in at left-midfield.

Conspiracy theories and injuries notwithstanding, most people expect Wayne Rooney to start behind Robin van Persie, and their performances will be the key to the outcome of the match. At Eastlands in December, Rooney was clinical and allowed United breathing space by taking his chances expertly whilst also working to help the team defend. The worry for United is that, despite being solid defensively recently, they haven’t had the same fire power as early in the season with both Van Persie and the famed Wing-play not living up to expectations.

Van Persie is however a big game player and will know that this is as good a stage as any to return to his goal scoring feast he was enjoying earlier in the season.

In central midfield, there is a question over who starts next to Carrick, with the two likely options Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley. Ferguson might be inclined to choose the former, more defensive option, after his performance against Chelsea where United were able to suffocate the Chelsea attacking thrust before a moment of genius unstuck them.

City play a similar, central style to the Londoners, and Jones’ ability to deny space in between the lines could be key in shutting Silva and Aguero out. Yet, attack is often the best form of defence for United so Cleverley’s passing touch might count against Jones, who often seems to stymie the team from exerting their true attacking potential when he is played in centre mid.

Unless Roberto Mancini goes fully mentalist, his predicted formation is a type of 4-2-2, with David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero furthest forward whilst James Milner could play a disciplined role on the right.

Gareth Barry is likely to form the base for Yaya Toure’s barnstorming runs, and could often be the last man in midfield if United execute their counter attacking prowess. Tevez and Aguero will look to their direct running and quick interplay to unlock the wily red defence, who haven’t conceded in 627 minutes of Premier League football. Tevez is sure to be sprightly, having scored 7 in 7.


Depending on whether Jones or Cleverley play, the game could be tight or frantic. If Jones plays, I think it will be 1-1 or City will sneak it by one, and it would be disappointing to see a lack of adventure from the home side. But were Cleverley to play, i think United would outgun city and come out comfortable winners 2-0 or 3-1.

Some people believe the title race is over but let’s see what tonight brings before we celebrate prematurely, here’s why

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  1. The_Philosopher

    8 April 2013 at 10:50

    Good write up Ollie.

    City are still the second best team in England in my opinion so we will have to be careful.

    That said we should beat them tonight because of home advantage and current form. I think we’re the more confident team and we will be dead set on fixing the double they did over us last season.

    I too hope van Persie will score tonight.

    But I think we should press our advantage home. Win lose or draw tonight the title is still in our reach and so we shoul dtake the pressure off and just play amazing football.

    I would like to see Ferguson gamble tonight and play Cleverlety alongside Carrick lets go a spectacular double!

    Your analysis of our wings is crisp. Young = dependable (but generally sucks), Nani = potentially explosive in attack (but generally sucks), Valencia = tactically disciplined (but generally sucks).

    Very good.

  2. montira

    8 April 2013 at 15:15

    man utd 2 man city 1 🙂

  3. The Man United Fan

    8 April 2013 at 16:09

    We are back on track Last season lost from Man City the premier league trophy run but this season we have created difference among the points and its a vast one no one can chase us >

    Thanks to Robin Van Persie , Wayne Rooney , Shinji Kagwa for their brillent efforts in the match . Hope on this Monday Man UTd will defeat the team of the Man City . 👿 we r the Devilz

  4. Opti

    8 April 2013 at 17:16

    With all eyes on the Derby, did anyone notice that Glazer’s sold off Carrington naming rights to Aon for 15 million per season for next 8 years… Happy Derby Day! 👿

    Next up, Old Trafford become Gazprom Arena or something equally heinous.

    • gator

      8 April 2013 at 17:48

      @Opti: the training kits sponsor dhl was bought out early for aon. this will make way for chevey on the match day kits. mo money means mo room under ffp for players. we will be able to outspend even shiteh and the rentboys. neymar, moura, and ronaldo… why not?

      • Moscow

        8 April 2013 at 18:00

        @gator: Under FFP we should technically be unstoppable but City and Chelsea will exploit loopholes and/or the rules won’t be enforced properly by UEFA, of that I am sure.

        • Opti

          8 April 2013 at 19:24

          @Moscow: FFP is dumb. Just put a f**cking salary cap on UEFA leagues… now that is fair play. Everton would win the league then or Arsenal, I think

  5. gator

    8 April 2013 at 19:52

    so whats the formation with rvp roony welly and gigs

    gigs in mid and welly on wing?

  6. The_Philosopher

    8 April 2013 at 20:30

    Jones starts at CB. Van Persie looks hungry. He hasn’t been this close to a title in almost a decade.

    Young and Welbeck on the wings. Its a real indict on Nani and Valencia that Welbeck is a better option on the right.

    Giggs and Carrick in midfield. I have to concede that I will have to reluctantly bow to the wisdom of Sir Alex. If he thinks Giggs is one of his best midfield options then so be it.

    Good setup.

    • The_Philosopher

      9 April 2013 at 08:23

      @The_Philosopher: Actually I take that back.

      I can’t bow to the wisdom of Sir Alex because its just not wisdom.

      Playing Giggs in CMF is a dumb idea period.

  7. gotor

    8 April 2013 at 21:17

    Owngoalinhoooooo!!!!!!!!! 😈

  8. Opti

    8 April 2013 at 21:27

    Anyone else think Chicharito will be sold… so that we can keep 1-goal pony Welbeck…

    Young and Welbeck are extremely overrated and belong in reserves.

    • fahime shuhaime

      8 April 2013 at 22:07

      We have Vidic, Evans and Smalling that available and match-fit to play and yet SAF preferred Jones to play CB. And Giggs played for 90 minutes? At least SAF should replace Welbeck, Young or Giggs on 70 minutes to change the game play.

  9. mad

    8 April 2013 at 21:54

    This is really pathetic… Ferguson should retire. This team sucks beyond word. Play at home and hide your head in the ass trying to play counter. WTF … and we should change the name to Man Shitty United

  10. slowshow

    8 April 2013 at 22:12

    SAF is really slow in making necessary changes and this is just too worrying cus it is happening persistently. The entire team was poor today with Young, Evra,Welbeck and Giggs the main culprits. I just cannot imagine how defenders can allow a striker run around them and score the way Aguero did.
    Giggs is not a CMF and when played there is just useless and he and Scholes should be shafted out of the team. If we don’t get two solid midfielders for next season, the one can honestly say that Ferguson has lost the plot.

    • The_Philosopher

      9 April 2013 at 08:27

      @slowshow: Yeah Slow. I hope Ferguson sees the big gaps in our midfield. its a joke.

      We need a real big player in the middle. I will even be satisfied if he buys just one let only two.

  11. gator

    8 April 2013 at 22:42

    cheer up boys we were playing decent we were just out muscled.

    tevez is a diving cunt

    match was officiated as if city had homefield.

    oh yea and #20

    2 new in mf next year are necessary. if ando isnt good enough send him packing and bring in some muscle. ando is the only mf we have that doesnt wilt we need more

  12. tonymontanna4united

    8 April 2013 at 22:50

    Absolutely abysmal showing from us once again.
    Our final notable game of the season to all but win the league, and just like the last few months we fail to show up, create sod all and look jaded and disinterested all game.
    Absolutely bloody pathetic from everyone today.
    Fergie once again getting his starting selection totally wrong. How many bloody times do we have to see giggs in a 2 man midfield before we move on? If anyone thinks were going to be seeing a new midfielder this summer, I fear they are mistaken.
    Likewise the substitutions, which have been pathetic since the Madrid game. No cleverly, giggs lasts the full 90 minutes, valencia coming on again, kagawa gets a final 30 seconds to influence the game 🙄 Utter shite.
    As for our total lack of any desire to actually try and play some positive football and actually create more than a single goal scoring chance a game, well its beyond a bloody joke now.
    This is just not the united way. Its very easy to blame van persie for his barren run, but how many chances are we creating for him. Most games he gets the odd half chance, if that.
    If we wanted to bloody well play like stoke, then we should have just made a bid for andy carroll because obviously that’s the way fergie wants to play. Try and get a goal, sit on it and get through each game doing the bare bloody minimum, no wasted energy and move on to the next one.

    As for fergies post match comments:

    “It wasn’t a bad performance by us, so I’m not disappointed in that respect. I’m disappointed with the goals we gave away.
    I think we were unlucky to lose the game. But it is easy to see why these were the best two teams in the country – the evidence was there tonight.”

    That just makes me want to cry.

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