Preview: City vs United

Here at TKTG we take a look at the best articles leading up to the Manchester Derby on Sunday.



Mind Games

“Twenty-one in the last year, isn’t it?” the Manchester United manager asked. “If we were to get that number of penalty kicks there would be an inquiry in the House of Commons. There would be a protest.”

Mancini leant back in his chair and delivered his riposte. “But I remember very well last year,” he said. “[Ashley] Young, when he went swimming …” Then the manager of the Premier League champions clasped his hands together and stooped his head in the manner of someone diving off the top board. His tone was one of exaggerated puzzlement. “I think it was four or five times in the last 10 games and he [Ferguson] didn’t say nothing.”

Perhaps, though, Ferguson may want to look a little more closely at the penalty statistics when the 21 awarded to City in the league have actually come since the start of the 2010-11 season. United can hardly feel harshly done by when they have had precisely the same number. Though, of course, it may be that Ferguson’s words were actually intended for the referee, Martin Atkinson, more than anyone else.

From Roberto Mancini brushes aside mind games ahead of Manchester derby

Tactical Preview



On a classic sunny afternoon at Wembley, City’s key player was Yaya Touré, who energetically charged forward from an advanced midfield position. The nature of his winning strike was a fantastic microcosm of the two sides’ contrasting approaches – the Ivorian intercepted a wayward sideways ball from Michael Carrick to Paul Scholes, and roared past United’s defence on his way to goal. United had concentrated on calm, patient midfield distribution, while Touré offered the raw physicality with which they struggle to cope.

Last season Touré played a deeper midfield role and, although he was quiet in the 6-1 game, Ferguson still attempted to nullify him at the Etihad, handing Park Ji-sung a first league start in three months in a central midfield role. Park had famously performed an excellent marking job on Andrea Pirlo in 2010 but, while the Italian is a gloriously creative yet fragile player, Touré had the power to outshine Park, who repeatedly lost his footing. At the point Vincent Kompany headed in the winner, Touré had completed more passes than any other player, underlining his constant influence, while his forward running pushed Park deeper, leaving Wayne Rooney desperately isolated. Park never played for United again.

…These displays have been surprising, especially in contrast to his performance last week at Reading, when his defensive work was faultless. In big games, perhaps Rooney becomes increasingly determined to influence the game in an attacking sense – and his spectacular bicycle kick winner at Old Trafford two seasons ago demonstrates those capabilities – but on Sunday, Ferguson may request pure discipline.

Read the tactical preview by the author of Zonal marking on the Guardian website.

Preview – BBC



…It was United’s season in microcosm. The brilliance of Robin van Persie, aided on this occasion by Wayne Rooney, provided the safety net for Ferguson’s faltering back four.

But he knows City’s high-quality attack, led by Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, will be only too happy to take advantage of such generosity, admitting: “It is a worry. If we perform like that on Sunday, God knows what will happen to us.”

A healthy goals-for column may have United top of the table, but it is easy to see why Ferguson is so unhappy at conceding 21 goals already in the league.

Since Ferguson’s arrival at Old Trafford in 1986, United have only twice conceded more league goals after 15 games.

…Now they face Aguero, who has the best minutes-per-goal ratio in Premier League history among players who have scored 20 or more goals. The Argentine has scored every 118 minutes since his arrival in the top flight at the start of last season.

He will need no second invitation to exploit vulnerability in United’s defence, a situation not helped by lengthy absences for Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and, crucially, captain Nemanja Vidic. Will Ferguson be able to resist the temptation to play him on Sunday?

United’s firepower has sustained their season so far and the numbers add up for them too. Javier Hernandez has a scoring rate of one goal every 120 minutes in his Premier League career while Van Persie, of players to have scored at least 100 league goals, has the second best average, scoring every 137 minutes.

Mancini’s side have shown resilience in domestic action but the spine of the team has lost reliability and firepower this season. Key elements including goalkeeper Joe Hart, captain Vincent Kompany, midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure and the wonderfully gifted David Silva have not reproduced the consistency of the victorious 2011-12 campaign.

They are, however, still undefeated in the league and have a chance to move back level with United. The league standings say much about what both managers have brought to their clubs.

The entire BBC preview by Phil McNulty – Chief Football Writer

Blog Views

Man City – Simon Curtis
It would be less than magnanimous of me if I did not start this piece by congratulating Manchester United on their 20 years of almost complete Premier League domination. It has been quite something to behold, from its pantomime birth with plain old Mr. Ferguson and his sidekick Mr. Brian Kidd (shame on you, Brian!) doing the Chicken Jerky 5 yards inside the touchline after Steve Bruce’s stopwatch winner against Sheffield Wednesday.

It all just seemed to roll from there, didn’t it? I’m sure, however, many reading this will join me in confirming how glad City supporters are that the dark period is finally at an end, brought to that unforgettable close by Sergio Aguero’s nod to history after our red cousins had turned — in the space of 30 unrepeatable seconds — from champions-elect once more on a dreary afternoon on Wearside to the quietest of quiet neighbours.

…Since the Back-Heel, you can count the opportunities United have awarded us to feel giddy on the fingers of one hand. I still occasionally find my otherwise pleasant and floaty dreams interrupted by the sight of Andrei Kanchelskis skinning poor David Brightwell down the right wing and then coming back for more down the left and then through the middle. In my dream, Brightwell and indeed Alan Kernaghan too (although in his case, he may have been this way in reality as well) have morphed into large sacks of cement. It is quite a scene. The words on the sacks, printed in those typical cement sack letters, say ” Humiliation – This way up.”

…In more recent times, we have rejoiced in little Shaun Wright-Philips’s howitzer, stood in silence and then in trembling glee as Benjani’s shoulder saw us finally to victory at Old Trafford (Denis Law Day being the previous one, 30 years previous!), a place where a sound stuffing came as regularly as the same fate befalls a Christmas turkey. We have celebrated not one but two home-and-away doubles in recent times, just to prove that we are over the two-generation-long jinx.

And now, with the clubs peeling away at the top of the league, this weekend’s little dust-up at the Etihad promises to be a pointer not only to which side might expect to be left holding the shiny pot at the end of the season, but also to whether we are set for an extension to the 20-year domination of the red hordes or the strengthening of a new blue power base in the north.

Come on, City! (and don’t play like I dream … )

Man United – Fan View

Ahead of this weekend’s Manchester derby, Bluemoon caught up with our resident red “JM Mcr” to get the lowdown on the opposition.
The Manager: Fergie is arguably the best British manager in my lifetime, his achievements in the game as a whole, and at United in particular, put him in a unique position where as a fan you have to give him the benefit of the doubt, even in the face of his more questionable decisions (73 year old Ryan Giggs as our centre midfield dynamo??!!). It’s just a shame he doesn’t have a more likeable personality and can be a bit of bully at times.

Key Players: Rooney, Van Persie & Carrick (like Barry a player whose contribution is often overlooked by his own fans).

Your Achilles heel? Individual defensive errors that would make an Under 8′s team cringe. Also the managers inability to decide on his preferred keeper – I think he needs to put his faith in one or the other and leave them to it. Never going to instill any confidence in either of them if they’re constantly awaiting the hook.

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose? Yaya Toure in a heartbeat.

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction? De Gea, Smalling, Evans, Rio, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Scholes, Rooney, Welbeck, RVP.

With some of our recent defending I think we’ll definitely need to score more than once to take anything from the game. We’re also long overdue a draw this season so I’ll go for a 2-2.

Opposition view: Manchester United

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