Man United: Five reasons United will beat City
This afternoon Manchester United and their noisy neighbours come face-to-face for the first time since City stole the title from them in the dying moments of last season.
United start the day as league leaders and three points clear of Mancini's men. Although it is far too early in the season to call this a title winning game, this could have a huge say in its destination.
Yesterday my colleague Colin Illingworth gave five reasons why he thinks City will win this game, so here is my reply.
The arrival of Robin van Persie has been nothing short of sensational and his £24 million price tag looks like a bargain. His goals have made all the difference, keeping United top of the table going into the derby. Not only does he score goals, he creates them and improves those around him. This will be van Persie's first Manchester derby, but he knows the significance of this game. He will relish playing in a game that is vital in this seemingly two-horsed race now. City made a bid for van Persie, but he wanted to come to United for all the right reasons. His goals and ability can lead United to victory.Sir Alex Ferguson
Going into this derby, Roberto Mancini and his City squad have been knocked out of Europe completely and questions about his future at Man City have been asked. Ferguson, on the other hand, has guided United through to the last 16 and topped the table. Ferguson may not have all the players Mancini has at his disposal, but his team has a resolve and belief stronger than City. Sir Alex has already seen off the challenge of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to remain top dog in England. His next challenge is to put City back in their place and he always gets what he wants.
No-one is under the illusion that both Manchester teams are playing at their best. United have been leaking goals at an alarming rate with Ferguson admitting the forwards have bailed out his defenders all season. Recently, Nani and Valencia have been ruled out for the derby, leaving United with few options for natural width. The diamond formation is narrow and limits our fullbacks, but is supposed to protect the defence. If Silva isn’t ready for the match, it will be a bonus for United, because City’s midfield is considerably stronger. Despite failing to hit the highest heights, a win can spur on United for the second half of the season.Comeback Kings
This year, while it’s been agony for supporters at times, Manchester United have been kings of the comeback. The win against Fulham was just the first of many inspired Manchester United comebacks, the most notable ones (Southampton, Braga, Chelsea, Aston Villa) ending with a 3-2 scoreline. Last weekend United traded seven goals with Reading in the space of 35 minutes, ending 3-4 in United’s favour. The comebacks wouldn’t be needed if United could control a game from start to finish, but the verve United have shown after going behind is tremendous.Revenge
Last season City did the double over United, including that drubbing at Old Trafford. Revenge sounds petty, but the manager, players, and supporters have an immense amount of pride that was hurt by that. Follow that up with the 1-0 victory at the Etihad for City that basically sealed the title and all I’ve been looking forward to since the fixture list came out was December 9. The game against Man City isn’t like a game against Liverpool, true rivals. City have forced themselves into relevancy and are challenging United at every step for supremacy of Manchester.Calling all Manchester United fans: Do you agree with Alex’s views? Will United beat City? Who will be the difference maker? How much will the match effect the title race? Whatever your views we’d love to hear from you.