For the last few seasons, the Manchester Derby has been the most important match of the season in the Premier League, usually pitting the best two sides against each other, with the local rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City obviously adding to the importance of the occasion.
It’s hard to define this as a match that crowns champions when it’s so early in the season, but it’s hard to imagine the title race being without one of these clubs, and it’ll probably involve both of them for most of the way if not until the very end.
Both teams arrive to the match in similar form, with 7 points out of a possible 12, and comfortable wins in their Champions League matches as the tune up for this one. David Moyes has seen his share of intense derbies when managing Everton, although he wasn’t too successful in winning those against Liverpool. However, his team has done very well against Manchester City in recent years, so it’ll be interesting to see how being on the Manchester United sidelines affects his karma in this match.
Football, not luck and past statistics, will determine the outcome, and despite losing at Cardiff and drawing at Stoke City, the feeling is that City are more solid and confident at this point of the season. With Vincent Kompany, their most important defensive player, returning from his injury, that solidity and confidence should be boosted even further, although there’s a chance David Silva and Gael Clichy will be unavailable for the match.
City rely on their depth and strength in the middle to get by and dominate, and their duo of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho in the middle is probably the best in the Premier League, with Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri likely to start out wide. Playing against United, winning the battle in the middle against Carrick and Fellaini, with Wayne Rooney obviously involved as well, will need Samir Nasri dropping further and drifting to the middle more than usual.
United will be missing Danny Welbeck, while Rafael and Phil Jones are also possibly still injured. David Moyes has criticized Ashley Young for his diving, but that doesn’t mean he won’t use him, unless he fears that the crowd’s effect on him will be too great, which then will give him the option of using Ryan Giggs or Nani, while Antonio Valencia is automatic for the right side.
City have won three of their last four matches against Manchester United, but it was a 90th minute Robin van Persie goal that gave Manchester United possibly their most important win of last season, as United beat City 3-2 at the Eithad Stadium.
Prediction – Manchester City are the favorites, but they should be more cautious than in the past with Rooney and Van Persie on the other end, meaning that starting to attack aggressively should come at a later stage in the match. City are probably the better side, and will come out with the narrow win due to having better options on the bench and a stronger midfield.