United go into the City game on the back of a shock 4-4 draw to the hands of Everton after been 4-2 up with ten minutes to play and looking comfortable. In this article I will be analysing the potential key battles which will occur on Derby day and which will without doubt affect the final score.
Chris Smalling Vs Samir Nasri
Nasri was heavily linked for a move to the Reds in the summer but decided that he would instead move to the blue side of the City. He hasn’t had the best of seasons so far and like people expected, his inconsistency has been the main reason for his mixed reviews. Nasri can play on the wing or in the middle behind the forwards but I expect to see Mancini try and get at our right-back who I expect to be Chris Smalling. Smalling has had a very stable two years after his move to United in the summer of 2010. He has been used at Right-back and Centre-back but has fallen out of favour slightly due to the form of Brazilian team-mate Rafael. Although Rafael has been superb going forward, he often becomes complacent when it comes to defending and he was at error for two of Everton’s goals on Sunday. I expect to see Fergie pick Smalling as City are a very attacking team on the wings and Smalling’s pace and all round defensive ability will surely give him a good chance of keeping Nasri quiet.
Jonny Evans Vs Sergio Aguero
Since the 6-1 defeat to City back in October, Evans has been the stand-out man in our defence covering superbly for the injured Nemanja Vidic. He has grown in confidence since and has deservedly found himself as a strong contender for United’s player of the year. Meanwhile, Aguero has been the ace in City’s pack of cards after his move last summer. There is no doubting Aguero’s all round attacking ability but something that needs to be highlighted is the physicality of his game. He never seems to really put himself about so if Evans puts in a few rough tackles on him early on in the game then maybe just maybe Sergio will slip into Jonny’s back pocket.
Antonio Valencia Vs Gael Clichy
Like Evans, Valencia is a strong contender to be United’s player of the year for this season. His pace, power and acceleration has stood out in games and he has often been labeled as a defenders nightmare due to his turn of pace and his superb agility. Although, Clichy is very much a so called ‘Left Wing Back’. He is very fast for the modern day left back and he also knows how to tackle. One of Valencia’s problems is how predictable he is at times. He always likes to hit the line so the ball stays on his right foot and if he does this against Clichy, I can’t see Tony V been that successful. I’d personally like to see him mix it up a bit more and sometimes cut in on his left and look for the easy pass to the central midfielders or even the cross come shot type of thing.
Luis Nani Vs Micah Richards
Over the past two years, Nani has built up a reputation of been one of the best out and out wingers in the Premier League. His nifty footwork often dazzles defenders and leaves the clutching at straws for the majority of the game. The one thing I don’t like about Nani’s game is his lack of strength. He’s not exactly the smallest of players and he is often scrutinised for going down far easier than he should. This is a factor which he needs to cut out of his game completely. Where as Richards is a very physical player. His height and power in my view make him one of the best defenders in the Premier League at the moment. There are not many City players I find it easy to praise but Richards is definitely one of the ones I’d happily praise if he plays well. Richards will take the game to Nani and very much try to roughen him up. To get the better of Richards, Nani will have to use his crafty footwork and superb movement to defeat Richards which is sure to be one of the key battles of the day.
Wayne Rooney Vs Gareth Barry
Rooney has had a relatively good season this season scoring 33 goals in 41 games so far. He has really adapted well into the playmakers role behind Welbeck or Chico but his constant goal threat has made him an extremely hard player to mark. Barry has been City’s ‘dirty work man’ for the past season sitting in front of the back four and cleaning up anything which comes loose from the midfield. Personally I’ve never rated Barry and I doubt I ever will, so with Rooney playing off Welbeck I struggle to see how Barry will cope with his power and his ability to find the pass at the right times.
Danny Welbeck Vs Vincent Kompany
Kompany is another City player I have a lot of respect for. The way he controls the ego’s in that team is unbelievable and I’d have praise for anyone who controls a bunch of so called ‘school boys’ at times. He is a very dominant and physical Centre-back who has a big aerial presence. Although, Welbeck has been superb this season after his successful loan spells at Preston North End and Sunderland. He often reminds me of a world class Emile Heskey as he can hold the ball up superbly then his agility to turn and his acceleration over the first 20 metres are astounding. I fully expect this battle to be a key one because if Welbeck gets the better of Kompany early on in the game then I can see United scoring three or four.
Fergie Vs Mancini
Let the mind games end let the football do the talking. This game is a must win game for City as anything less than a win will put United firmly in the driving seat for the title going into the final two games of the season. I expect City to come out all guns blazing playing the 4-2-2-2 formation with Barry and Toure filling in in front of the back four. Fergie will stick to what he knows best and play the 4-4-1-1 formation with Rooney been given the freedom of the midfield and attack. If United draw then that will be a good result in my eyes as we will be 3 points ahead with City having to go to St James’s Park, or if you’re really fussy The Sports Direct Arena, which will be an extremely tough game for them in which I find it hard to see them getting 3 points.
Overall I think the way that United can beat City is by doing what Holland did to Spain in the World Cup Final. We need to get stuck in and to play aggressively and try to upset the rhythm of their play which is sometimes very similar to the way Spain play. If United do this and unsettle them then I don’t see why we couldn’t beat City and beat them well.
City ( 4-2-2-2 )- Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Toure, Silva, Nasri, Aguero, Tevez
United ( 4-4-1-1 ) De Gea, Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Welbeck
Score Prediction- 2-2
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