For once the hyberbole of the media isn’t as over-blown as it usually is. This is a big one. It’s a derby between the reigning Premier League kings and their upstart noisy neighbours and it could very well decide the winner of this season’s championship.
If United win that is. If City win then we’re set for some nail-removing final weeks. Hazaar!
Now here’s who the Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini have decided to send out to battle tonight. No Balotelli and no Wellbeck, is anyone really surprised?
Manchester City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Lescott, Clichy, Barry,
Nasri, Silva, Y Toure, Tevez, Aguero
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Nani, Rooney
The Live Bit:
The Premier League has yet to be decided and if you believe everything Roberto Mancini has been saying of late then his side have the tougher final two games.
Next up the Citizens are away to Newcastle and that is real banana-skin. If they can get three points on Sunday then they’ll be seriously short favourites to wrap things up at home to a QPR side which has lost 13 away games in the league this season.
United are home to Swansea and away to Sunderland in their last two games. Two winnable games but with only one win in their last four for the defending champions, there’s no guarantee they’ll take all six points. They didn’t even manage a shot on target in this game. That’s not the United we’ve become used to during these heady Premier League years.
- Manchester City – 2/5
- Manchester United – 15/8
Yaya Toure was the man of the match as City’s physicality in the midfield allowed them to maintain control for most of the game. Scholes and Giggs were too often brushed aside by City players. They needed a less work-shy work-horse than Carrick in there with them. United tried to come on strong at the death but this Ferguson side is a pale comparison to his swashbuckling sides of years gone by.
Full-Time: City win to regain the top of the table on goal difference. Now this is how a season is supposed to end. On a knife-edge. Who will trip up in their last two games?
21.53: Joe Hart is fouled as everyone converges in his box under a high and hopeful punt in to the box. That should be it now.
21.52: Corner for United deep in stoppage time. Squeak. Squeak.
21.50: Milner comes on for Nasri as Mancini does a little time-management. The Frenchman could and possibly should have wrapped things up.
21.48: Five minutes of injury time? Not sure where that came from. Still time for United.
21.47: Nasri thinks he’s still playing for Arsenal as he dicks around in the United box instead of shooting. That would have sealed it. United on the front-foot now.
21.45: City on the attack and De Gea pulls off a good save to deny Clichy.
21.45: Ashley Young goes to ground and it WASN’T a dive! Remarkable that.
21.40: City look to tighten things up as Micah Richards comes on for David Silva. United make a change of their own bringing off the largely ineffective Nani for Ashley Young. With Scholes already taken off for Valencia Ferguson has played his last card.
21.39: Tensions are rising as City hold on to their lead. United have yet to really threaten but knowing United like I do, City can’t risk trying to hold on to a one goal lead.
21.36: It’s getting tasty now as Carrick goes in the book for taking down Barry. Bums are starting to squeak like vuvuzelas at the Etihad
21.33: That didn’t take long as De Jong goes in to the book for a foul on Wellbeck. Then it all kicks off on the sidelines as Ferguson and Mancini exchange words.
21.32: Paul Scholes squares up to Yaya Toure. Not exactly a fair fight that one.
21.26: Phil Jones goes in the book for a foul on Barry. No one blames him for that one.
21.25: Kung-Fu De Jong comes on for Tevez
21.22: At last United have some kind of foothold in the game. You sense they need to make the most of this good possession. A woeful Jones cross kills their latest attack.
21.19: United struggling to get the ball out of their half as City take control once again. Toure puts in a dangerous cross De Gea does well to clear.
21.15: Wellbeck comes on for Park. The South Korean looked a little off the pace tonight. Not surprising given his recent lack of game time.
21.14: City pour forward. Zabaleta wins a corner but could have done better.
21.12: Ferguson looks set to bring on Danny Wellbeck. Some decisive management from Ferguson but what does it say about his original 11?
21.10: Yaya Toure joins Kompany in the book after throwing the ball in to the ground in frustration following a free-kick going against him.
21.07: A handling error from Harte gives United a corner. Which comes to nothing.
21.05: United have started the second-half as positively as they started the first. Harte claws away a dangerous corner.
21.03: Second half kicks off.
HALF-TIME: City take a deserved lead after a half which they gradual took control of. Sir Alex will be throwing tea-cups, kicking boots at heads and going even more purple faced in an effort to gee up his players.
Giggs has been anonymous as Yaya Toure has dominated the centre of the pitch. With United now needing to come out and attack, Aguero and Tevez may find the space they were denied by United’s defensive startegy in the first half.
20.45: Vincent Kompany scores! That’s why Rooney was trying to get him sent off. A storming header puts City up right on half-time from David Silva’s corner. These neighbours are a damn sight noisier now.
20.44: Ten men behind the ball for United as they frustrate City. And they’re not playing for the draw?
20.38: A touch of the Arsenal’s there as Aguero overplays it slightly and wastes a promising position.
20.35: City go close-ish-ish. They’re controlling the ball and look more dangerous in attack. Still 0-0.
20.34: Wayne Rooney is a little too agitated after Tevez barely fouls Jonny Evans. Off, off, off he may go.
20.27: It’s still tight but City are looking more dangerous going forward. Wayne Rooney appears to be trying to get Kompany sent off.
20.20: A harsh decision from Marriner there. Kompany goes in to the book after Rooney makes a meal of fair challenge.
20.16: Some teasing back-and-forth early on. United are here to work hard. City are poking and prodding.
20.08: United have a second spurious penalty-claim turned down. Wouldn’t happen on Webb’s watch.
20.05: City started a little nervy but they have their first corner of the game….and nothing happened.
20.01: A shout for a hand-ball in the City box but there was nothing in that one. United have started the stronger.
19.57: “This is not a time for fear boys, this is a time to be brave.” Ha. Is there something wrong that I’m starting to dislike Gary Neville a whole lot less than normal? I though familiarity was supposed to breed contempt. Have I pushed on through to the other side? We’ll deal with that one later. It’s almost kick-off. If you haven’t placed your bets do it now!!! Or wait and do them in-running. Whatever.
19.51: Aguero and Tevez are the perfect partnership according to Nevs. I reckon Aguero could do better.
19.43: “I hope it turns out to be a really good game for everyone in the country,” lies Alex Ferguson. He seems in a chipper mood. Apparently he never plays for a draw but eee gads he’ll take one tonight.
19.39: On the brink of one of the biggest games of the season. Ferguson has gone for safety first with this line-up. Park-ing the bus? The first of many terrible puns.
19.32: Is it just me or is Gary Neville piling on a bit of timber? They should get Shreeves to break the news to him.
19.26: Will we get a blast of the patented Gary Neville scoregasm tonight? The excitement is pants dampening and I’m not a fan of either side.