There were many reasons to believe that the Manchester derby would have resulted in a blue “white” wash, a very easy canter to victory from the Premier League title holders against a struggling Manchester United.
Things can change very quickly in football however and in the past week there have been quite a few factors to consider that may swing the pendulum back towards the red side of Manchester for the Super Sunday clash between the two fierce rivals.
First of all, Manchester United are starting to slowly show signs that they will eventually rise from the ashes after their torrid season and a bit since Sir Alex Ferguson left them where they failed to strengthen in the right areas, lost their fear factor and were showing signs of being an average Premiership side rather than the title dominating side they were not so long ago.
Under Louis Van Gaal, they have a manager with a plan in place to improve the quality of the squad and the quality of the football. He has impressed in the transfer market with a couple of real world class signings who are looking the business so far, especially when integrated with their already quality players like Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin Van Persie.
Manchester City on the other hand were the polar opposite of United last season; pure class, attacking flair and defensive resolve that saw them win the title was met with passion, desire, hunger and a great attitude from their star players. They were a joy to watch for the neutral and truly worthy of their crown.
This season has seen them stutter a bit at the early stages however, they seem to be struggling to defend anywhere near the standards they showed last season, their key player Yaya Toure appears to be lacking hunger and they are (despite being the favourites to compete with the current league leaders Chelsea) way below par at the moment.
They dropped three vital points away at Upton Park last weekend and they produced a very poor showing in the cup against Newcastle which saw them dumped out 2-0 on their own patch. There are reports of squad disharmony, lack of confidence and problems defensively which unless they are resolved and soon, City’s title aspirations will start to fade, and they will find it increasingly harder to close the gap at the top.
United have had an injury boost before the derby with Wayne Rooney declaring himself fit to play. This will provide the red devils a mighty boost going into the game. Despite the quality they already have to choose from, the skipper’s return will add something to the mix that they cannot get without him; unadulterated passion and desire to beat their rivals. Rooney likes to upset Manchester City and likes to score against them. Not only that but in his new found role as Man United captain he will be a massive motivator to the rest of his team mates, a real driving force to inspire his team to victory.
City also have their own injury news which is of the negative type. David Silva picked up a knock in the cup tie against Newcastle and Yaya Toure is also an injury worry for them. Add this to the defensive frailties they have shown in recent games and that could be a recipe for disaster this weekend.
United will be hungry to win this, more so than even West Ham were last weekend when they showed real desire to get all three points against the champions, and with all due respect to the east Londoners, Man United have that much more hunger and quality about them at present. If Man City show up in the same manner as they have done in their last two games, then it could spell real trouble for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Wayne Rooney will be the main difference between the two teams, he will be the driving force behind United on Sunday, most likely will score a goal and do a lot of running and grafting in other areas of the pitch to ensure he gives his side the best possible chance of winning the derby. Manchester City will need to hope that Silva is fit to play and that they play more like they did last season if they are to stand any sort of chance in this game.