For Manchester United, who need to have a historic collapse in order to let the Premier League title slip away, it’s about revenge against their city rivals just as much as it is about clinching the league title. For Manchester City, hoping the scenes of the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford from last season make a comeback, it’s about showing that the huge gap between the two sides is a mistake.
The psychological war has already begun – Alex Ferguson is talking motivation and revenge, Roberto Mancini is talking about teams fearing United and Alex Ferguson, not giving their best against them for some reason. Pride and bragging rights is what City have left to play for, even if they do believe that there’s any chance of still winning the Premier League title, sitting 15 points behind the Red Devils, with 8 matches left to play.
Nemanja Vidic should be fit to play in what seems to be a chance for him to prove it’s still not time to give up on him, as the injuries that have burdened him for the last couple of seasons haven’t hurt the impressive record he and Manchester United have, winning 72% of the matches when Vidic is in the lineup. Combining with Rio Ferdinand in the middle of the pitch is no longer the stronger centre back duo in Europe, but brings quite a lot of confidence to a team looking to break a few records, having won 25 of their 30 matches this season.
The difference between the two teams in the first meeting was Robin van Persie, probably the difference between United and the rest during the first half of the season, when the defense kept conceding, but the all-out-attack approach during second halves worked every time, spearheaded by the Dutchman, who couldn’t do anything wrong. It’s been going exactly the opposite on an individual level for RVP, scoring only one goal for United in their last 12 matches, dating back to February 10 if you’re looking for his last net-finding accomplishment.
Manchester City are buoyed by their 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle, but it seems you never know what you’ll get from Roberto Mancini’s side from week to week, especially on away matches, with City winning only 7 of their 15 games on the road this season. As much as the scoring ability of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko is important, the crucial factors will be David Silva, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure.
Prediction – A win won’t change anything for Manchester City, and neither will a draw. In England, usually, Manchester United are ferocious about making a point, and it seems that winning against in the derby is one of them.