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Manchester United Fixtures

United Battle City With Top Spot On The Line

Over the years, there have been many significant matches between Manchester United and Manchester City. In fact, every Manchester derby is significant, if for no other reason than the city rivalry and the bragging rights that come from being on the winning side. But is it fair to say that few clashes between United and City compare in importance, hype, and anticipation than today’s showdown at Old Trafford? Yes, yes, and yes.

Some might try to say it’s just another game, and sure enough, it is, because it alone won’t be the match that decides the Premier League title, what with there being 29 more matches left for both sides. But when you’ve got fierce city rivals battling it out for top spot in the Premier League, it’s more than just another game, even if it it’s only October.

RECENT HISTORY

If today’s match is nearly as thrilling as the last meeting, then we’ll be in for one of the matches of the season.

United and City faced off in the curtain-raising Community Shield in August, and those who packed Wembley were treated to a classic. It didn’t look like it’d be that way for a while, as City went into the break 2-0 up thanks to goals from Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko.

However, as we’ve seen time and again, deficits aren’t a deterrent for United, and they came out roaring in the second half. By the hour mark, it was 2-2, thanks to Chris Smalling and Nani, but the best was saved for last. With time running out and penalties looming, City had an opportunity to fashion a winner from a free kick. However, Wayne Rooney hoofed a clearance away, and then City decided to go to sleep defensively, allowing Nani to win the ball, break free, leave Joe Hart stranded, and slot it home for United’s latest dramatic winner against City.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Manchester City

After ending their long trophy drought by winning the FA Cup last season, City are chasing bigger things this season, and they’ve gotten off to the kind of the start that’s to be expected of a title contender.

In eight Premier League matches, Roberto Mancini’s side has seven wins and a solitary draw at Fulham, and they enter today’s match two points ahead of United at the top of the Premier League. In starting as they have, they’ve put up some extremely impressive numbers. They’ve scored at least two goals in every match and have netted 27 goals total (and conceded only six), and six of their seven wins have been by multiple goals.

It can be said that there have been a few slow starts in the bunch, as they weren’t able to break through against Swansea, Everton, and Blackburn until the second half. And domestically they haven’t been tested like they will be today, and they didn’t pass a comparable test in Europe against Bayern Munich. But when they’ve been on, they’ve been unstoppable, so from a quality standpoint, there’s no doubting what they have on offer.

City didn’t make a ton of additions this past summer, but the notable ones that they made have played key roles in their hot start. Sergio Aguero, signed from Atletico Madrid, has hit the ground running, scoring eight Premier League goals. The other notable addition, former Arsenal star Samir Nasri, has been an early hit as well, notching a Premier League-leading six assists.

Much of the core from last season has heavily factored in as well, with the exception of Carlos Tevez, who United fans know (and some still love, more than likely). Tevez won’t be on the pitch tomorrow, and he might not ever be for City again. However, instead of all of the Tevez drama seemingly hasn’t affected City too much yet, which could be considered a sign of progress.

Manchester United

United relinquished top spot in the Premier League by virtue of their 1-1 draw at Liverpool last Saturday, in a match that saw selections that were perhaps head-scratching if the expectation was to see United attempt to take the game to Liverpool.

However, after not seeing Wayne Rooney and Nani in the starting XI at Anfield, and seeing Danny Welbeck deployed as the lone striker in a formation that was built exactly for the result that was achieved, we’ll see a much more attacking lineup today.

This is not to say that the approach at Liverpool was incorrect, because one point > none in the big picture, and one point > none in the three previous visits to Anfield. However, today calls for a much different approach, and it’s reasonable to expect to see it.

It would be ideal to have Tom Cleverley back in the reckoning, but it appears that this match is just a bit too soon for Cleverley. That’s highly unfortunate, because his return could see the return to the same United we saw at the start of the season. However, with the threats that Nani (as City can attest to, hey?), Ashley Young, and Wayne Rooney can provide, United have the horses to navigate the course successfully today.

There are, however, three important selection-related questions:

1) If, as he should, Sir Alex Ferguson elects to go with two strikers, will he partner Rooney with poacher extraordinaire Chicharito, whose penchant for being the right man in the right place at the right time is always a bonus, or will he go with Danny Welbeck, whose energy, versatility, pace, and creative ability could wear City out?

2) Who will start in the center of midfield? United need to be able to hold their own in the center of midfield, so this is a very, very important decision for Fergie. Anderson and Carrick partnered up in the center against Otelul Galati on Tuesday, but could and should we see a combination of Anderson and Phil Jones in there today? Just throwing that out there, in case United go with the tried and tested partnership in the center of defense.

3) Is Ferdinand-Vidic still the go-to pairing to man the middle of United‘s back line? Rio didn’t exactly have a memorable game against Liverpool, but he provides valuable experience and leadership that are handy attributes for a match like this one. A combination of Jones and Chris Smalling occupying right back and that non-Vidic slot in the center looks to be the way of the future, but is it the way of today as well?

PREDICTION

Given how close almost every recent meeting between United and City has been close, and how several of them have been decided by late goals, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same again today.

But while there isn’t much to separate the two sides in terms of talent, one major difference is that United’s ability to win these kinds of matches has been proven time and time again, while the same can’t be said for City as of yet.

While it’s anyone’s guess as to what we’ll see from City today, it’s a certainty that United will not only come out with a gameplan and a starting XI designed to get the three points, but more importantly, they will be where they need to be mentally to get the win as well.

And as an added bonus, there’s the matter of Old Trafford being Old Trafford, and it’s sure to be rocking as United win a 20th straight home Premier League match and return to the top of the table.

Score Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

95 Comments

95 Comments

  1. [OPTI]Madschester United

    October 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    HUMOR:

    BREAKING NEWS: Manchester United hunting new striker by the name Juan-Six to partner fellow new-boy Hugh Miliation up front.

  2. andy c

    October 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    This is a crap dream,time to wake up.

  3. tonymontanna4united

    October 23, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Well i suppose a result like this was coming really, what with the way weve been playing recently.
    The red card just killed it. Awful, awful defending by evans, but i suppose if there is 1 positive from today, its the fact that we can rest safe in the knowledge that evans cant play for the next 3 games. Thank goodness for small mercies an all.
    As for the team selection and set up, well i must say this season just makes the decision by fergie, not to buy atleast another midfielder, all the more amazing.
    We were always going to conceed goals this season. That was unavoidable. No team can lose players of the standing of edwin, evra, rio and their RB (whoever that may be) and expect to be fine at the back. So we were always going to going conceed goals, just makes it that bit more amazing that fergie then didnt go out and plug the massive hole in our midfield.
    Today is the result. No defence , and a bloody massive hole in our CM that offers absolutely zero protection, is it any wonder we cant control games and conceed about 2 a game?
    I just hope, if todays result did anything, it made fergie wake the fuck up and realise we are well due some changes there.
    I doubt it, but i hope it does.
    As foe the game, well i cant be arsed to much except for saying i dont ever want to see fucking evans, evra and rio, starting in a game like this again. Nor park, giggs or valencia either so we can avoid another liverpool performance again.
    Basically start again from scratch and start with fabio at LB, smalling at RB, vida all the time, along with jones. It’ll continue to conceed goals for the forseeable future, but i suppose thats unavoidable as they grow.
    Midfield, well again nothing we can do until jan, but ive already said about carrick before, so id just continue with fletcher for the time being, and pray cleverley makes a swift return soon.
    Also give pogba a call up, or loan him out, dont just sit him there and leave him to rot in the reserves.
    Come january, we’d fucking better go out there though, and spend some serious money, or else weve got no chance with the league this time.

  4. ash is the man

    October 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    we got the hiding we deserved. ando and fleth are so average and two games in a row rooney has had to come in centre mid because our centre mid is so shit. RIO PLEASE RETIRE and berba not even given a look in so why the hell didnt we sell him, what is the point in having him at all if he doesnt even play?? SURELY HE WOULD OF CONTRIBUTED and im sure he would be very usefful in a free role C.A.M
    IM SO SHELL SHOCKED

  5. [OPTI]Madschester United

    October 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Munich beat City, we crumbled. They are totally beatable, we fluffed it!

  6. Traverse

    October 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    To be honest, the score doesn’t bother me much. They scored 3 goals in the last 5 mins against 10 men. It was 0-1 when we went down to 10 men, and I’d rather we got beat 1-6 trying to go for it at 1-3 down than just shut up shop tried to defend a 0-1 loss.

    The worst part is the crowing we’ll have to put up with about City being better than Barcelona yadda yadda yadda.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      October 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      let them revel in our shadow.

    • Grognard

      October 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      To be honest mate, the score should bother you much because we were one man down and playing at home and we gave up a ton og goals. How many times have we been one man down and not done that is what you should actually be asking yourself. Today was a royal hiding of epic proportions and a signal flair from the bad side of town telling the whole world there was a new sheriff in charge.

  7. Grognard

    October 23, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    OMG!! 😯 😯 😥 😥 I woke up to this horror, to this humiliation OMG!!! Only getting murdered by Barcelona beats this for lowest feeling ever.

  8. [OPTI]Madschester United

    October 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    More from Fergie

    “We just kept attacking,” said Sir Alex. “It’s alright playing with the history books but common sense has to come in at times. With the experience we had at the back, we should have realised that and settled for what we had when it went to 4-1.

    “At times our full-backs were almost our wingers and we were playing almost two versus three at the back. That was suicide and crazy.

    Ummmm…. who is the Manager in charge? Fergie or the players?

    • tonymontanna4united

      October 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      Aye because 4-1 would have been a result to be proud of eh fergie 🙄 BS from fergie if those quotes are genuine, course we’d have preferred to not conceed 3 goals in the final few minutes, but what a load of shite, should have sat on it. It was an embarrassment regardless of how the game ended, 4-1, 6-1, is there really a great deal of difference? Typical of fergie though to have a go at us because the players actually wanted to go for it, even when the game was already over.
      As for the so called experience at the back, well all i can say is with players like evra and rio, experience is most definitely over rated. Give me fabio, jones, smalling etc any day.

    • Craig Mc

      October 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Mmmmm Fergie can give his players instructions to execute – but he can’t give them brain surgery or common bloody sense. The players were and are naive mate. I think he is totally right about the full backs playing like wingers – because they certainly weren’t doing their defensive duties. Evra is the main culprit and not just in this game either. Evra is always pushing forward at the expense of throwing defense to the wind – he is just too gung ho and is so slow in getting back that he is breathless when he gets back to defend and he cannot execute the basics. Yet why Fergie has only seen this in this game I don’t know – because Evra is always caught upfield more than back taking care of his defensive responsibilities. So I agree with Fergie on his observations this time – we were very naive as a team and instead of being patiens after going to 10 men – we went all illogical and lost all sense of precaution. So yeah Fergie was right on his obs in this matter! No question in my mind about that. Our FBs including Fabio and Rafael with Evra and Jones go forward FAR FAR FAR too often! Where are their brains eh?

      • Grognard

        October 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

        Evra is the Antichrist.

    • Grognard

      October 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      I just finished writing a retrospective review on the match which will be published either later today or tomorrow and the one thing I decided to omit this time around were any quotes from our esteemed manager because frankly, I am tired of listening to his BS and excuses.

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