Okay so we go into another derby against United but this fixture will be as eagerly anticipated as the game last season.
A Gareth Barry goal and a brace from Craig Bellamy wasn’t enough to prevent defeat last season and last minute goals dominated three of the four derbies played last season and blues fans will be hoping lessons have been learnt from those games.
City go into the derby on the back of a 3-0 victory over West Brom at Eastlands, thanks to a Carlos Tevez hat-trick and the blues will be hoping that was just a warm up for the Argentine striker, who returns to Old Trafford for the third time since his controversial move across the city.
Supporters from both sides will be hoping for an improvement on November’s game at Eastlands, when a dour 0-0 draw was played out and City midfielder Yaya Toure claims the blues are going for the win. “It will be a hard game, but we’ll go there looking for all three points, not just one. I beat United during my time at Barcelona and now I dream of repeating that.”
And boss Roberto Mancini says United were lucky last season after three last minute goals won the derbies for The Reds. “They were very lucky last year. Our team is a good team. We have improved in six months. Maybe United have a better winning mentality than us because they have won a long time. This is the only difference.”
His United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson thinks he knows what team Mancini will play at Old Trafford. “I have a good idea of their team,” says Ferguson, who is hoping his team will avoid a second successive defeat in the Premier League and also preserve their unbeaten home record which has seen them win twelve out of thirteen games.
And veteran winger Ryan Giggs stated he would not leave his house for a week if United lost Saturday’s derby, giving the blues extra incentive to win. You don’t tend to leave the house for about a week if you lose,” said Giggs. “You don’t want to lose derbies. If you’ve lost one you’ll be walking down the street and a City fan will come and let you know about it.”
City have doubts over Mario Balotelli, although the striker is hoping to make the bench. Nigel de Jong has suffered an ankle injury and is rated at 50/50. Definitely out are Adam Johnson and Micah Richards, who is still suffering from concussion.
Rio Ferdinand will miss the derby through an injury to his calf. Johnny Evans is also out so Chris Smalling will play alongside Vidic in the centre of defence. Antonio Valencia and Owen Hargreaves also miss out, while Javier Hernandez only landed in Manchester on Friday following international duty and may also miss the game.
United (from): Van der Sar, Lindegaard, Kuszczak, Rafael, O’Shea, Brown, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Fabio, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Gibson, Anderson, Park, Bebe, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez, Owen.
City (from): Hart, Given, Zabaleta, Richards, Boateng, K Toure, Kompany, Boyata, Kolarov, Lescott, Wright-Phillips, De Jong, Vieira, Milner, Y Toure, Silva, Barry, Tevez, Dzeko, Balotelli, Jo, Guidetti.
League Form (Last Five)
While my heart is saying a 3-2 win for City, I think both teams will score but end up cancelling each other out and settle for a 2-2 draw. I’d prefer the former though.
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