Monday, January 18, 2010

United preview

The confidence and brashness that was felt heading into tomorrow's game has no doubt been checked a little since the weekend - obviously because of contrasting results for ourselves and United, but also I'm sure because derbies rarely illicit a feeling of over-confidence as kick-off approaches.

There was much debate after the postponement as to whether the initial game being called off worked in our favour. Reaction seemed to be overwhelmingly that it did, but the fact we go into the game following such a miserable performance and with the injury problems not a great deal better, the delaying of the first leg has probably made little difference all things considered.

Make no mistake, this is a huge week for us. Many strides have taken on and off the field since the ADUG takeover but until we can land a trophy a big shadow will continue to loom. You do sense the anticipation building though and winning the Carling Cup would be a real starting point for the ADUG era and the ambitions they have.

Team wise, there isn't a huge amount of manouevering Mancini can do. Stephen Ireland will likely be on the bench but no more, Patrick Vieira is not considered fit enough yet whilst Roque Santa Cruz has added to the problems. Defensive duo Joleon Lescott and Wayne Bridge are also still out of the equation but Nedum Onouha could be pushing for a return.

It would be a big surprise if Mancini didn't opt for a 4-4-2, with the only changes from Saturday being Benjani in for Santa Cruz to provide a target for Tevez to work off, and probably Shaun Wright-Phillips in for either Craig Bellamy or Martin Petrov depending on the formers fitness after playing the full ninety minutes. Mancini may hold Wright-Phillips back, but he has always looked a threat against United with his direct style. In addition he has a good goal return.

Less certain is United's line-up. With the defeat against Leeds fading in the memory, Alex Ferguson may be less inclined to wield the axe on the fringe players who started in the FA Cup defeat. Formation wise will be interesting to see how the start and they will possibly go with two wide players backed up by attacking full-backs.

Not being a one-off tie could have some impact though, with both managers aware that the return leg at Old Trafford is only a week away. I expect a close game, and when the full-time whistle sounds it would be a huge surprise if either side was out of the tie at the half-way point.

Prediction? We will take a narrow lead to Old Trafford with a 1-0 victory.

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2 comments:

Webbie @ Football and Music said...

I agree with you about the loss, it takes away the brashness away and City have been reminded that you've still got to go and play.

Fergie will remind his lot about the Leeds defeat and use that against them. Obviously it's not going to be the kids running out. My reckoning is a near full strength team from them and a tough, very flared tempered game.

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