It’s that time of year again, the Manchester Derby. The red half of Manchester will go behind enemy lines this Sunday lunch-time as they travel to the Etihad Stadium looking to extend an early lead at the top of the table. Some will call this a must win for the Citizens as a loss would open a six point gap between the two sides.
Fergie’s men are the in-form team of the Premier League at the moment having only lost one of their previous nine league outings and go in to the game on the back of three straight wins. Despite their impressive run of form it is hard to hide the fact that defensively they have struggled. Only 20% of games this season have ended in a United clean sheet. Conceding three away to newly promoted Reading last week took this season tally of goals conceded to 21, only 12 less than the amount conceded throughout the entire 2011/2012 season.
On the other side of Manchester, City have struggled to recapture the consistency that saw them crowned Champions last season. Despite being unbeaten in six, Mancini’s men have dropped points on three occasions. However they look a lot more solid at the back than their visitors having conceded only 11 goals this season, keeping six clean sheets in the process.
This will be the tenth Manchester Derby between the managers in all competitions, in which I’m sure Alex Ferguson will be looking to break away from his counterpart towards his sides 20th Premier League title. There is no disputing the fact that Man City have closed the gap on their rivals with the teams being separated by more than one goal only twice in the last ten meetings. Despite this Man United still hold the advantage having won six whilst City have won three.
Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley is a doubt for the eagerly anticipated encounter having limped off in mid-week in the defeat against CFR Cluj. On top of this influential Nemanja Vidic looks set to remain on four appearances this season recovering from a knee injury.
James Milner looks set to remain on the side lines as he is still recovering from the injury sustained at Wigan. Meanwhile David Silva is rumoured to be struggling for fitness with a hamstring injury.
Ones to Watch
Carlos Tevez goes into the fixture against his former club as Cities top goal scorer on seven and will be looking to increase his lead on Edin Dzeko who is on six despite having just over half of the playing time. Dzecko has converted 46% of his 13 shots on target and will be sure to get chances against a shaky Manchester United back four this weekend.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to Robin Van Persie for goals with the Dutch international joint top goal scorer in the league. However Michael Carrick will be pivotal in breaking down the home sides fluent attacking football which has already seen then net 28 goals already this season. Carrick has won 55% of the possession in the midfield third this season and 41% won in the defensive third.
It is a case of home comforts for Manchester City who have gone 37 league games unbeaten at the Etihad a record that equals United’s best top flight home run. Since 2002 City have not dropped a point against their Manchester rivals after scoring first, W7, D 0, L 0.
On the other hand out of the 15 games Manchester United have fallen behind in all competitions this season they have come back on ten occasions.
Despite United being the in-form team this season, City remain unbeaten at home this season and are likely to do the same this weekend.
Manchester City 2-2 Manchester United