Derby No. 169
With much at stake, Manchester City find themselves with their backs against the wall and losing ground on the very two feet they stand on. Now in fourth place, City are in a place they haven't been this late in the Premier League in quite some time, and the club that "Aint Got No History", stands in front of their historical rivals, a surging Manchester United looking to gain a valuable three points.
Last week, City found themselves on the losing end of a match against Crystal Palace. A match where possession and shots attempted were dominated by the Blues. Granted, a few calls could've swayed the outcome of the game, but we've seen that City before, a City team that has lost four straight away games, the first time that's happened since 2006 under Stuart Pearce in the Joey Barton and Georgie Samaras era. The same City team that seemed to come into a seemingly inferior opponent's ground and get run off of it. City attempted to let the names on the backs of their shirt win the match for them, and it cost them dearly.
But this will be different.
City is seeking their fifth consecutive league win against United, something that has never happened in the history of the "other" club. Manager Manuel Pellegrini, who's sacking has been rumored all week, and for the most part all spring, stated that the pressure was on City to win, and he's absolutely correct in saying that. Liverpool is in the rear view, and fourth place is not where City wants to be in regard to European play, the pressure is mounting, but these are the matches that the current iteration of Manchester City seemingly always prevail in.
What Could Go Right:
Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko love playing against United. Kün has scored four goals in three matches against the Reds while Dzeko has tallied four goals and two assists in just 128 minutes of play. In Pellegrini's Friday presser, he stressed movement and creativity in the box, and that was clearly lacking against Palace in the previous match. But given the lack of discipline shown from United's back four over the course of the season, it is quite possible that City could find gaps and get into the back of the net. Also worth mentioning is the lack of Vincent Kompany for the match. While missing the team captain is surely important, one can quickly think back to the match against Roma that featured Martin Demichelis and Mangala as defensive partners who held a back line assuredly against pace and creative attackers, two things United surely have no trouble with. Also, look for James Milner or Samir Nasri to start in Jesus Navas' place, their direct play could prove to be the spark in what has been a dud of a wing.
What Could Go Wrong:
Frankly, everything. Playing away to United is obviously quite hostile, and dropping points would only mean an easier exit for Pellegrini. United is playing well in form at the moment, with Rooney and Mata finding their stride, Ander Herrera finding the net all of a sudden, and Fellaini..well..lets just say, finding moments of extreme fortune, a loss would certainly mean the end for our Chilean boss, be it short or long term. Even though the partnership with Mangala and Demi were mentioned earlier for their merits in the Champions League, there's always a possibility that things could go awry. Also worth mentioning, Pelle mentioned that Dedrick Boyata is out for the Derby, I guess we should bring up Nastas...oops.
Hart, Clichy, Mangala, Demichelis, Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, Milner, Aguero, Dzeko
Caballero, Kolarov, Sagna, Fernando, Nasri, Lampard, Jovetic