Blog by: Raj
The blue side of Manchester host the Red Devils at Fort Etihad, as the two sides look to reignite their rivalry, this Sunday. The two teams may have new faces at the head of their managements but the derby is more intense than ever and the pressure on both the sides remains the same.
It may be early days in the Premier League season but this is the kind of match the makes or breaks a team psychologically. When Manchester United lost the EPL crown to the Citizens in the 2011-12 season, the whole debacle began with United’s spectacular home loss to City after which they simply lost their bite.
The reverse happened last season when United beat City at Etihad in the first half of last season, after which United had the run of their lifetime consistently winning matches in that busy December period. Simply put, these are the kind of matches that are ‘worth 6 points’ as Manuel Pellegrini stated.
Manchester City (4-2-2-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov; Fernandinho,Touré; Silva, Navas; Agüero, Dzeko/Negredo
Injured: Clichy (thigh), Demichelis (knee), Richards(doubtful to play)
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Valencia, Rooney, Nani/Kagawa; Van Persie
Injured: Welbeck (knee), Jones (ankle), Rafael (hamstring), Fletcher (illness)
Manchester United – Tactics
David Moyes has continued Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics of wing play and counterattacking efficiency. What separates his tactics from Sir Alex is his pragmatism, especially with respect to the wingers who are allowed to roam inside allowing the full backs complete freedom on their wings. Evra has had a brilliant start to this season under Moyes and Ashley Young’s indifferent form is only going to increase Evra’s efficiency on the left.
Flourishing under Moyes
In the last match, against Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester United displayed a very peculiar style. Their right side was completely left open giving free license to Antonio Valencia to both attack as well as defend. He made the best of that occasion showing why he is still so highly rated.
The left side, on the other hand, owing to the lack of real wingers, was a pivotal point of play-making with Kagawa dropping deeper allowing Rooney and Van Persie to run the show ahead of him. This was obviously helped by the exceptional game that Rooney had that night.
The only choice that Moyes will have to make would be between Kagawa and Nani, but with Jesus Navas probably starting on the right for City, Moyes may just decide to have Young as the more defensive option to effectively double team Navas.
Manchester City – Tactics
Manuel Pellegrini is often referred to as ‘The Architect’ and he is the perfect man to build an efficient team out of a group of individual talents. On paper, Manchester City have the strongest squad in EPL, but as it often happens, real life football is not a console game of FIFA.
Under Pellegrini, they have played with no constant formation shifting between different formations in the blink of an eye. But there is a pattern that has always been seen in Pellegrini’s style of play consistent from his days in Spain. A high tempo pressing game with two strikers and an amazing ability of the players to always be uniformly positioned – if one player moves up, another would always cover for him.
The system is a hybrid form of a 4-2-2-2 with Silva and Navas most likely to be played in the advanced midfield with Navas providing width whenever he can. In the defensive midfield, Pellegrini will have choose between the more defensive Javi Garcia and the more generic Fernandinho. At the strikers position the experienced pair of Aguero and Dzeko are likely to feature.
Marouane Fellaini vs. Yaya Toure
Can Yaya Toure be negated for certain?
In the past, Manchester United have faced a hard time against players like Toure and Dembele, who tend to dominate over the opponent midfield with their sheer physical presence. After Roy Keane and Owen Hargreaves they have never had much bite in their midfield.
However, all that changed with a last day signing of a certain Belgian, who has provided a certain kind of control in the midfield, not a creative one but a physically controlling one. Fellaini will face the litmus test as he squares off against the midfield enforcer of Manchester City, Yaya Toure.
Wayne Rooney vs. Garcia/Fernandinho
Whoever, among Garcia or Fernandinho, plays as the CDM for City, his job would be to simply stick to Rooney like a magnet and not allow him to operate between the channels. Expect a centre half to be moved on to Rooney as he would definitely be double teamed which will then liberate one of the United attackers to get a chance at a one-on-one.
Micheal Carrick vs. Manchester City pressing
Michael Carrick would have a tough job. As the calm presence that he is, he would be pressed hard from all sides by Aguero, Silva and Toure. Even if Fellaini shields him to some level, Carrick would still have a difficult time and he has previously struggled against teams that press hard and high.
This is one match where making a prediction would be like predicting the result of a coin toss. When emotions run high and the players respond more and more to the fans’ passion, one goal could decide the outcome of the match. Moyes would most likely be happy with a draw but Pellegrini would surely have his own plans.
Whatever happens, expect a high-tension match fraught with cards and emotions with some violent tackles thrown in and clashes along the way.
K.O Time: 8.30pm (Etihad Stadium)