After stupidly volunteering to cover the post-match analysis tomorrow, when I will undoubtedly be hungover from a landmark victory or in a state of pure apathy and despair after a soul-crushing defeat, I thought it best to do a quick pre-match prediction as to who I think will win the game without letting partisanship sway my decision.
Or at least try to…
I have nothing bad to say about Manchester City this season, and that is coming from a lifelong United fan; they have been, and few can disagree, excellent.
They play some incredible football at times, stuff that must give City fans who remember the days playing against Bury and Gillingham a huge amount of joy. Neutrals can see that Mancini has brought a completely different brand of football to the blue half of Manchester, a continental flair that hasn’t been seen since the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ or the title-winning Chelsea side under Jose Mourinho.
However, one thing Manchester City fans can’t argue with is perhaps the main reason that they let an 8 point, seeming unassailable lead in the title race slip through their fingers and hand the impetus to United.
Inconsistency and indiscipline…and no, I’m not just talking about the indoor firework specialist. I would say that having watched a lot of Manchester City this season from my rather level vantage point in Norfolk, they just haven’t grasped the art, like United always have done, of playing badly and still winning convincingly.
United make victories against lesser opponents look like a training exercise at times (see QPR and Aston Villa towards the back end of this season). City however, who have demolished lower opposition on a regular basis this season, have just seemed to let the bugs work their way into the expensive system late on in the race for the title.(The Swansea, Sunderland, Stoke and Arsenal games in particular).
If it weren’t for United’s uncharacteristic slip-ups, which even have the most expert of pundits scratching their domes, the title may well have already gone to United, or awarded today at the Etihad. A bitter pill that would have been, I’m sure you would agree.
Some players from both Manchester clubs have gone missing in recent weeks, mostly in the creative and innovative departments in midfield. City-supporting friends of mine have been less than impressed with David Silva’s performances at the culmination of the season, while United fans have placed the blame on a lack of concentration at the back (the Everton game only confirmed this theory).
Everyone is looking for someone to blame on both sides of the footballing aisle, and I’m not entirely sure where it can be successfully attributed…I would like to hear your views as to the slip-ups from both sides.
Now to the game…and where I think you fancying a flutter should put your money. It is a very hard one to judge, with the odds for all possible outcomes being so close together…and if the bookies don’t know. What chance have we mortals got?
I’m going to stick my neck out and say the winner will have it by two goals, because the attacking prowess of both teams are so good. It will come down to which back-line doesn’t let the mistakes creep in, as we have seen both be guilty of some calamitous errors…and which goalkeeper Hart or De Gea can be the last line of defence if the mistakes do happen.
I placed a lot of faith in De Gea, and it wasn’t immediately repaid. However, making the strongest candidate for Save of the Season, and stringing some clean sheets together seems to have done wonders for his confidence.
Joe Hart is just Joe Hart. Very reliable, excellent aerial ability and presence in the box, and a natural organiser all rolled into a 6 foot 4 giant of an England No.1. The head goes with Hart, the heart wants De Gea to play a blinder. We shall see.
City – City need performances from the middle of the park tonight, whether it be the powerhouse of Toure or the guile and skill of Barry and Milner. They need to assert themselves and boss the game with their wide range of passing and movement, not allowing United to command those positions that allow the incisiveness that Valencia, Rooney & Co give.
United – United have to be aware that attacking City through the middle is a huge ask for any team, and so United must realise that attacking from out wide is their only chance to get in behind the back line. There needs to be effective overlapping from Evra and Rafael/Smalling, outnumbering City out wide and dragging the concrete central midfield into positions they are uncomfortable with.
With the skill City have got in their ranks, they could very easily take it at a canter if United don’t turn up…but I think SAF will have instilled a lot more desire in them than what they have shown in recent weeks…and that could make the difference.
My head says score draw. My heart says 3-1 United…and you know what they say…Fergie always bets 3-1.
Where do you guys think it’s going tonight? Write on the boards and comment!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience