Manchester City will be hoping to add to their bitter rivals’ woes on Sunday when they face Man United in the third round of the FA Cup, kick off 1pm.
It’s fair to say that the past week hasn’t gone to plan for the Premier League champions. Having squandered the chance to go top of the Premier League on New Year’s Eve, they were shocked by Steve Kean’s Rovers before losing 3-0 at Newcastle midweek to go three points behind their noisy neighbours in the league.
If that wasn’t enough punishment for United fans, their star striker Wayne Rooney has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons which resulted in a club statement on Friday saying that he would not be leaving the club contrary to newspaper reports.
Perhaps the one game they needed after a turbulent week was to visit their near neighbours and exact some revenge for that defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season. It’s no doubt the stand out tie of the 3rd round and with United already out of the Champions League and the Carling Cup, this competition might be their best chance of silverware considering the challenge that City have laid down to them in the league. Having said that, Fergie’s men will be confident they can go to the Ethiad Stadium and progress to the 4th Round draw which follows Sunday’s proceedings.
With City holding recent advantage following their 6-1 win at Old Trafford plus beating United at Wembley last season on the road to lifting the FA Cup. They will want to knock their arch rivals out but will want to save some of their star players considering they have a busy period ahead including a the Carling Cup semi-final ties against Liverpool.
They have suffered a big blow as both Toure brothers have departed for the African Cup of Nations despite City’s best efforts of delaying their departure.
Not one person felt for Roberto Mancini after the City boss claimed in Friday’s weekly press conference he will struggle to fill his bench. Balotelli (ankle) and Barry (suspension) are both unavailable and add their absence with Yaya and Kolo being away plus the doubts regarding Nasri and Dezeko’s fitness then the City bench won’t be as strong. Poor old Mancini, I hear everyone muttering!!
The Red Devils undoubtedly have the weight of history on their side, with their trophy haul under Sir Alex Ferguson dwarfing the solitary FA Cup claimed by their neighbours last summer but the shift in power is in full swing claim City fans and if recent results between the two are anything to go by then they aren’t wrong. United will have a lot to say about that and will look to silent their noisy neighbours for the time being.
Their injury list is as long as anyones and things haven’t improved ahead of this derby. Smalling, Young, Cleverley, Fabio, Vidic, Fletcher, Owen and Evans are all definitely out and with doubts over their goalkeeper, Fergie’s defence is vulnerable at the time being. David de Gea could return but faces stiff competition from Anders Lindegaard who conceded his first Premier League goals at the Sports Direct Arena during the week.
Despite his defensive problems, Sir Alex has options up front and with Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov and Rooney all in contention for starting berths.
My Prediction: 1-1
Possible line ups:
Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Silva, de Jong, Milner, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko
Man United: de Gea, Valencia, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Welbeck, Rooney