Friday, November 28, 2008

United-City: Derby Preview

Over the last week I thought about changing the name of my blog to get more viewers. Supposedly if you put "Manchester United Blog" at the beginning, you get zounds of results. Upon thinking about this, I wondered who my audience was. I don't think it's the average fan, and it's unlikely that a European or otherwise foreign language speaking person would find it scrutable. When I decided to start it, it was for my own records, to show later to whomever that I was being productive (along this vein) in history.

So, I continue... somewhat begrudgingly though, as my point of view is much changed, and greater in quality, to those currently prominently occupying Google search results.

Time and circumstance are working in perfect accord (Here I go...) for a United result over City on Sunday.

The red club are coming off consecutive unsavory results and performances, two weeks after losing tragically to Arsenal at Ashburton Grove. A nominal pounding of Stoke did little to quench United's boiling rapacity, nor did their hard-fought blank with Aston Villa or their customary, friendly nil-nil with Villareal.

When United themselves were tore up by Arsenal, it was largely along the Red's right flank. Gary Neville was left to handle both Nasri and Cliche as the right-sided midfielder, Ronaldo, was playing forward to link counter-attacks. Neville and United were exposed; the introduction of Rafael not only provided their only goal but served to finally stymy the Gunner's artillery.

Rafael and Evra would be ideal candidates to deal with City's two prodiguous wingers, the reborn Shaun Wright-Phillips and the ever-dancing Robinho. Despite scoring on his City debut against United last year, Benjani is unlikely to threaten an in-form Vidic. Stephen Ireland is another City player on song lately, and Fletcher would be expected to hamper his influence, with either Carrick or Anderson deployed to bring the attack forward.

Up front, the return of Berbatov inevitably adds several angles to United's attack with Rooney the likely benefactor. The Englishman is focused on the game, stating Friday: "It will be nice to show them who are the kings of Manchester. I missed both derbies last season and that was really frustrating..."

Rooney added quite certainly: "It doesn't irritate us that City are getting all this publicity. If they were winning trophies it would irritate me but while they are still lingering in mid-table I am not really too bothered about it."

A positive result portends elsewhere in the squad. Ronaldo, as ever, appears absolutely on the verge of maniacism if he doesn't score some goals fast. Ronaldo seems to prefer attacking down our left-side and, if in position Sunday, should have joy against City's young right-back Zabaleta, while Evra, Vidic, Fletcher, and Park Ji-Sung are also enjoying spells of form for United.

United will look to swashbuckle through a City defense sometimes found frail and lacking confidence, with Ben Haim and Richard Dunne each making clownish mistakes throughout their four consecutive losses prior to last weekend's win over Arsenal.

Man City are still basking in the afterglow of both the Arsenal victory and Thursday's unexpected 2-0 result at Schalke, guranteeing advacement from the UEFA Cup group stage. Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips are twin blue angels of tricks and pace, and each are likely to expose United's outside defense at least once. Elano and Stephen Ireland should both feature also.

It should be a high-scoring affair, with United having the clear impetus to defeat the side who overcome them quite heroically last year, as City did the double over their more illustrious, more succesful neighbors. Coupled with the past two weeks of indifferent results, United are focused to start a long run of attacking football, and its inevtiable results, starting Sunday against their despised rival.

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