After Everton’s 2 goal comeback against United in the last 10 minutes of last Sunday’s game, City did their job in condemning Wolves to relegation with a 2-0 away win, thus making Monday the biggest day of the season.
So, as things stand, United’s lead has been cut to just three points and the derby at the Etihad on Monday will be key in defining who is to be crowned the champions of England.
It’s been a nerve-wracking season and United have uncharacteristically conceded a lot of goals at Old Trafford, with some shocking results like the 1-6 v City, 3-3 v Basel, 2-3 v Blackburn and 4-4 v Everton being the most representative examples.
Sans Vidic, the defence has looked shaky on occasion and despite having experienced players last Sunday we were unable to close the games out. The result against Everton was surprising though, especially considering, bar the Wigan result, we had kept a number of clean-sheets.
But after such a difficult result, Sir Alex has to do what he does best: get his players up for what will be THE biggest Manchester derby of all-time.
City has had some ‘relaxed’ weeks after the defeat to Arsenal, thanks to Mancini’s attempt to play the so-called mind-games with United, by telling the press “United are already champions”. City have been relaxed the last couple of fixtures and playing without pressure, cutting United’s lead to just three points.
I figure Sir Alex will play it safe and go with Smalling at RB. It’s been an awkward season for Chris; after shining in his debut season at United, he’s been plagued by injuries which have stalled his development. In all fairness to him, he’s played wonderful when called upon this season. The rest of the team will be pretty much the same. Nani should get the nod over Young I think, and it’ll be interesting to see where Rooney plays.
With City probably featuring Toure Yaya and Barry as holding midfielders, and with also Silva and Nasri as definite starters, it wouldn’t surprise me if Rooney played deeper in an attempt to control midfield and help dictate tempo. Carrick and Scholes have been exceptional in 2012, both individually and as a partnership, but a bit of help from United’s talisman could make a huge difference.
United need to remember playing with the intention of securing a point will be detrimental to our chances. If we are to retain the League title, then we must go all out against City and play for a win, just like Sir Alex said we would in the pre-match press conference. A defeat will make City favourites to lift the trophy (their superior goal difference will make them leaders if they win).
Attempting to predict how we’ll do in the next two games after the derby is a very difficult task. Plus I don’t think anyone is looking further than what is the biggest Premier League game of the season.
One thing we do know, is whoever wins will be in the driving seat!
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