Manchester Calling - Can United Reclaim The Throne? | MenStuff

Manchester Calling – Can United Reclaim The Throne?

manchester derby

The Manchester Derby is poised to set the Premier League title race alight, and we take a closer-look at which team has the edge this weekend.

Red or Blue, on which side of Manchester will you be found this weekend? Whether you have a dog in this fight or not, the result of this weekend’s biggest game could have ramifications for a few Premier League teams, most notably those elated Arsenal fans that have been given renewed hope that the Gunners could make a viable title challenge this season. I know, I know, they say that every year, but this season they’ve looked a far more polished team and are managing to stand up to some rivals – their 3-0 blitz of Manchester United and 2-0 dismissal of Bayern Munich provide evidence to that point. But, for now, our focus shifts to the Manchester Derby, where a win for United could see them considered valid title rivals, while three points for City definitively settles them as favorites for the 2015/2016 Premier League trophy.

First things first, what kind of form are the two teams in? With only two points separating the teams, and with City at the summit, they’ve shown fairly similar form across the last six games. Both teams have recorded 2 losses and 4 wins each. United’s most recent loss came at the hands of a meteoric Arsenal side, while City slipped to a surprise 4-1 thumping away against Spurs. Both sides look good, but have had chinks in their armour exposed this season. Based purely on recent form the deck seems to be stacked in City’s favour; the attacking additions, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, have both hit the ground running and are contributing goals and assists prolifically, which will be crucial as both David Silva and Sergio Aguero are expected to be absent from the derby. The stats point to City as well, as they’ve scored 9 more goals while conceding the same amount as United.

United’s primary areas of concern are in the midfield and defence, where both injuries and new squad members have created a problem for Louis van Gaal in terms of creating the right balance for his team. Carrick and Schweinsteiger offer fantastic levels of experience and ability to control possession, but as Arsenal demonstrated that means absolutely nothing if your leggy, aged midfielders can’t keep up with the play. A massive challenge for van Gaal will be figuring out how to stop City’s midfielders from dominating the game, as Arsenal’s trio did not too long ago. City’s weakness, as Tottenham showed, is in the age and discipline of their defence. Kolarov, Zabaleta, Kompany and Demichelis are all uncomfortably close to or over 30, and with how adventurous their fullbacks tend to be the center-backs are often left to fend for themselves against pacey forwards and wingers.


Pelligrini needs a tactful master-class with his underutilised attacking game plan to catch United off-guard.

Smart money would tell you that City will win the game, and I’m inclined to agree. Simply put, their squad has superior depth and has been together for longer – they’re all on the same wavelength. United have new players finding their feet, like Martial, Memphis and Darmian. It’s going to require very mature and mindful performances from the entire United team to control a match where they’ll be up against a fast, dynamic City attack. Alexis Sanchez gave Darmian the run around, and Raheem Sterling is very much capable of achieving a similar outcome.

City on the other hand need to make sure their center backs are protected, and that Yaya Toure remains aware of his defensive contribution if he is selected. The games where City have been vulnerable generally coincide with a lack of discipline from the fullbacks and midfield leaving too much space for the opposition attackers to operate in. Manuel Pelligrini has been accused of being tactically naïve in the past, and pundits frequently point to City’s disappointing runs in Europe as proof. As a fan it isn’t always fun to see a conservative approach from a team with such attacking talent, but more prudence going forward is often a recipe to grind out a victory without too much pressure on the defence – as Jose Mourinho will gladly tell you. A very real way for United to create opportunities is to hope that City are as lax as they were against Tottenham in terms of positional awareness and defensive discipline.

Both teams will go into the game relatively confident after remaining unbeaten in their European ties during midweek, with City recording a 2-1 win against Sevilla while United shared the points against CSKA Moscow in Russia. Neither team has been defensively consistent, and it’s likely that the points will go to whichever team’s defence, particularly the full backs, maintains discipline and focus throughout the ninety minutes. Both have attacking potential in abundance, but need to balance that with defensive measure. If either team should claim all three points, it is quite likely they’ll be selected as odds on favorites to be league winners in May.

The key battles for me will be Martial vs Kompany, Sterling vs Darmian/Valencia and Schneiderlin vs Toure. It isn’t guaranteed that all these players will start, but it’s fairly likely given the respective managers’ habits. Moving away from Manchester, Arsenal fans will probably be keeping a keen eye on this fixture, knowing that a draw in the derby could pave the way for them to go level on points with City by the new week.

Predicted line-ups:

Manchester City: Hart, Kolarov, Otamendi, Kompany, Zabaleta, Toure, Fernandino, Sterling, Nasri, De Bruyne, Bony.

Manchester United: De Gea, Rojo, Smalling, Jones, Darmian, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Herrera, Rooney, Martial, Mata.

The Game Changers

The young guns will have to step up for both City and United in this match. With Aguero and Silva sitting this game out through injury it’ll be down to their second and third top scorers in the league, Sterling and De Bruyne, to come up with game winning goals. For United, Martial has been a much needed revelation up top after an indifferent start to the season from Wayne Rooney, and Memphis will need to show his worth at some point, he could etch his name into the memories of United fans the world over if he puts in a winning display at the weekend. Whatever the result, the destination of this season’s Premier League trophy will be a little clearer in a few short days!

More weekend sports features:

5 Ways The Springboks Can Beat The All Blacks

Springboks vs All Blacks Will Be Worthy Of A Final

Rugby World Cup 2015: The Potential Record-Breakers

Epic New Springbok World Cup Rugby Video Will Give You Goosebumps




  1. James

    October 23, 2015 at 11:25

    Really great write up but I just can’t see United’s defense being able to keep up with City’s forwards. I think City have this one.

    • Kev

      October 23, 2015 at 11:26


    • Yossi

      October 23, 2015 at 11:30


    • Rory

      October 23, 2015 at 11:32

      KDB is looking electric

      • M A $ E

        October 23, 2015 at 11:33

        Fuck yes!

      • Com

        October 23, 2015 at 11:35

        Premier League Player of the season

  2. City Fan

    October 23, 2015 at 11:25


    • Liam

      October 23, 2015 at 11:27


    • Trap Lord

      October 23, 2015 at 11:27


    • Luke

      October 23, 2015 at 11:27

      City all the way

    • Kabs

      October 23, 2015 at 11:32

      My money is on city.

  3. Glory Glory Man United

    October 23, 2015 at 11:26

    Martial will be the difference!

    • Clive

      October 23, 2015 at 11:29

      I don’t think he’s come up against a proper defense yet

  4. Cape Town City Fan

    October 23, 2015 at 11:28

    Blue moon!!!!!!!!!

  5. Joburg Utd

    October 23, 2015 at 11:28

    United have this!

    • Claire

      October 23, 2015 at 11:29

      I’m backing United

    • Sims

      October 23, 2015 at 11:29

      United all the way

  6. Jhb_Utd

    October 23, 2015 at 11:30

    Someone needs to stop City this season and I think United can do it

  7. United

    October 23, 2015 at 11:31

    Great write up!

  8. Rooooooooooooo neeeeeeeeeee

    October 23, 2015 at 11:31

    Glorry glory man united

  9. 6 God

    October 23, 2015 at 11:33

    United will take it. History is on our side!

    • Kompany's Men

      October 23, 2015 at 11:34

      History history history. Time to start a new chapter

      • Blue Moon

        October 23, 2015 at 11:36

        We make history not buy history books

    • Madridsta

      October 23, 2015 at 11:35

      Sounds more like a Liverpool supporter

  10. Trap Life

    October 23, 2015 at 11:33

    The boys in blue have got this

  11. United 4 life

    October 23, 2015 at 11:36

    United’s defense are going to kill it

  12. United 4 life

    October 23, 2015 at 11:37

    Where did all these City supporters come from???

    • Charles_L

      October 23, 2015 at 11:38

      Probably were Chelsea supporters from last season

      • K.O.

        October 23, 2015 at 11:38

        Lame. So old.

      • Jeff

        October 23, 2015 at 11:39

        Or just Unitedcsupporters that came to their senses.

  13. Pirates

    October 23, 2015 at 11:39

    Awesome article! Why doesn’t anyone write like this for the PSL?

    • Amakhosi

      October 23, 2015 at 11:40

      Yaaaaaaaa bra

  14. Pirates Fan

    October 23, 2015 at 11:40

    United ftw

  15. City among the thorns

    October 23, 2015 at 11:41

    City all the way. They are having a blinder of a season!

  16. viva

    October 23, 2015 at 11:42

    City. 8 – 0

  17. Chupa

    October 23, 2015 at 11:42

    Manchester City every day of the week

  18. Realist

    October 23, 2015 at 11:43

    I’m a United fan and I think city have this one.

  19. Man U man

    October 23, 2015 at 11:44

    Some not so quiet confidence from the Coty supporters. We’ll see who has the bragging rights come Monday.

    • Man U man

      October 23, 2015 at 11:45

      Wait. There are no City supporters in Joburg

  20. Toffie

    October 23, 2015 at 11:45

    Look at the City subs. That’s a world class bench who can inflict pain on any team

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