Friday, 16 April 2010

Derby preview

There was a time when a Manchester derby looked so comically unconquerable that any goal, point or scrap of pride we could chisel from it felt like some divine blessing. These were no pressure games and when we did beat them it made our season. Not so this time. Derbies still matter as derbies - now more than ever, with the Carlos Tévez situation - but we can no longer go in with no pressure of expectation. This is the first derby I can remember when a draw is seen as a minimum. We're 7/4 with SkyBet (United are 6/4) and that sounds about right.

This might not have been the case a month or two ago. But in our last three games we've taken nine points and scored 14 goals. In United's last three games they've lost to Chelsea, crashed out of the European Cup and drawn with Blackburn Rovers. I'm not going to say that the tide is turning or that we're about to overtake them and and knock them off their fucking perch or anything like that. All I will say is that we're in better form than them. And so this is the best time to play them. Had Arsenal beaten Spurs on Wednesday night this wouldn't have meant quite as much. But after that result we need a positive points swing over Spurs. I'd take a point if we could be sure that Spurs weren't going to beat Chelsea (as they did last season.)

So what to expect? A lot is going to hinge on Mancini's selection. He could either stick with the goal-friendly 4-4-2, or revert to the 4-5-1 which worked so well at Stamford Bridge but isn't really the done thing at home. If he does change Adebayor will presumably make way for either Patrick Vieira or Pablo Zabaleta. I'd pick Zabaleta but I'm starting to think he'll stick with 4-4-2. With Rio Ferdinand a doubt I think Adebayor could bully Johnny Evans a bit. Wayne Bridge should return at left back, and I suppose it's possible Zabaleta will replace Onuoha at right-back if he doesn't play in midfield.

I could write about all the various sub-plots: Tévez, the poster, the 4-3, the semi-final, etc etc. But you all know the stories by now. We all know it is going to be massive. I hate predicting games like that but I'm going for a satisfying score draw.

1 comment:

bluefish said...

Got to be a win for me, anything else leaves the door open for Spurs. Tevez to score the winner. Go for it blue boys!!