Frugality versus munificence…the Scot versus the Italian…the Reds versus the Blues…the Red Devils versus the Citizens…wherever you’re from or whatever you call it, it’s Manchester United versus Manchester City-the legendary derby destined to decide the 2011/2012 Premier League title race.
As unlikely as it appeared three weeks ago when Manchester United went eight points clear of City at the top of the Premier League table, Monday’s title-deciding ultimatum will no doubt be pivotal regarding the destination of the long sought-after Premier League title.
Since the shocking loss to Wigan at the DW Stadium, United has won at home against a struggling Aston Villa side and squandered a two goal lead against Everton at Old Trafford. The latter allowed Man City to within three points, which leads us to the epic match on Monday night.
The Blues are the in-form side of course entering the game with the 3 wins in the last 3 after a disappointing loss to Arsenal. Throughout the week Roberto Mancini has not made it clear whether or not Mario Balotelli would return after he received a red card in that loss to Arsenal. If Mancini knew what was good for his team he would keep his starting 11 the same, most importantly in the frontline where Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez have impressed since starting together and in the attacking mid/winger spot where David Silva and Samir Nasri have showed the creative guile and goal-scoring potential that initially brought them together at the beginning of season. So then, where does Balotelli end up? Well hopefully for Man City, on the bench where he belongs…
For Manchester United, these last few weeks have been as painful as the 6-1 dismantling that the Blues handed them at the Theatre of Dreams on October 23rd. The Red Devils will have to respond immediately from last week’s disappointment. If they’re to complete this epic comeback in the title race, Alex Ferguson will have to put out his best lineup rather than underestimate his opponent like he often does. Basically, for Fergie, it means not starting Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick together in the center of midfield. Controlling the center of the park and not letting City’s attack run rampant at the Etihad Stadium will no doubt go a long way in the winning the game (and title) for United.
In conclusion, it is everyone’s hope that this game lives up to the hype and buildup that has been grown in the media. Whichever side you’re on, this game will either make or break your season and will leave both sides crestfallen as they should…a draw of course would leave everyone on the edge of our seats for the last two games and anxiously awaiting the final goal difference of the season for each side.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United
3- Tevez hat trick; 1- Rooney consolation goal