Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 20 March 2016
Kick off: 16:00
It’s sad that it’s come to this.
A slap off between two out of shape boxers, the Manchester derby today represents just two of our 38 Premier League fixtures. The biggest mark on the calendar? Nah. Rivalry? You’re joking, aren’t you? A United fan made me my tea the other night and another happens to be my Granddad who invites me round to his gaff to watch City play when he’s not chatting up the staff in Costa coffee. One manager looks like Audrey Roberts after gender reassignment surgery and the other looks like a joint of ham with a face drawn on it.
What the Manchester Derby has become is an embarrassment to this great city. I should hate my Granddad – in fact, he should not be considered part of the family – and our managers, considering the ridiculous amounts of money we’ve both spent, should resemble Greek Gods who smash the gym six times a week and entertain beautiful women on their rest days. The word ‘both’ should be shooed away by the guards of my lexicon when writing such a piece, correlative conjunctions should have no place in an article about two teams that should loathe one another, and I should be absolutely bouncing in anticipation of tomorrow’s game.
I can’t be the only one who thinks we may see another bore draw on Sunday afternoon. Limping off with his third calf injury of the campaign six minutes into our tie against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday, Vincent Kompany closed the door on what has been a dreadful 2015/2016 season for the captain. Ideally, we’d all follow him through that door and forget about all of this, but the reality is that we’ve got nine games left to make sure we play in the Champions League next term. Of course, regardless of what happens in the league, we could secure a spot by going all the way in the competition, fending off the likes of Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Barcelona with their superior managers and players, but that’s incredibly unlikely. Without Vinny, you’d say it’s impossible.
Fortunately, Manchester United have managed only 37 goals from their 29 league games and are still putting all of their eggs into the baskets of young boys who probably still rip holes into their trouser pockets. Marcus Rashford, the lad with the right foot of Pele, the left foot of Messi and the head of Zinedine Zidane, has been trusted with the task of boosting United’s goal tally since netting four in two games against FC Midtylland and Arsenal, but has failed to hit the back of the net in his last five games. If United continue to apply the pressure on the boy, he’ll end up in the bin alongside former World Player of the Year Federico Macheda and his mate Adnan Januzaj.
United’s impotence in front of goal makes me a little more optimistic about the prospect of a Mangala – Demichelis partnership. The pair have started together only once this season and did their best to help us to a record league defeat, but could only ship a measly four goals against Liverpool at the Etihad. Anthony Martial will be looking forward to this one if he actually gets a touch of the ball.
As for City, we have Agüero, and he could be all we need to take a step nearer to a guaranteed 4th place spot. Sergio has an average of a goal a game in his eight Manchester derbies and does enjoy humiliating David De Gea. He’ll be well up for this.
Vinny is likely to be out for the season, while Nicolás Otamendi will be assessed ahead of the match after suffering a dead leg in the 0-0 draw against Kiev. “Nico is running,” said Pellegrini in his pre-match press conference, “but it is a risk if he takes another kick in the same leg.”
Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri are expected to feature after the international break.
As for the rags, Ander Herrera is a doubt with a groin problem, while Ashley Young and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could feature after returning to trouble.
A battle for fourth spot it may be, but pride is on the line here and I think United have already lost all of theirs. I’m going for a plucky 1-0.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-03-20″ default_css=”true”]