This Sunday will see Manchester City, fresh into the Quarter Finals of the Champions League, face off against Manchester United, fresh from Eurovision, or whatever competition they are currently in. It would be hard for Manchester City fans to see the most bitter of rivals come to the Etihad and leave having leapfrogged us in the League. This is partially down to the goal swing needed to accomplish this on the day, given that we have a plus eleven goal difference on the visitors. Mostly though, it would mean the visitors being awarded four points for the win.
It may not be that far fetched though for City to be out of the top four when the game kicks off, with West Ham in position to inflict that pain if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, not that much of a miracle given the two sides contrasting forms this season.
If that scenario does play out though it could add extra motivation for the Blues, who seem to be stumbling through the season after what was a very good start. Certainly the timing of the game is historically on the Citizens side with the end of March being good to us with this fixture.
In 1993, City hosted United on the exact same date as this sundays, a decade before that last derby game at Maine Road, and went ahead through a Niall Quinn goal before Eric Cantona pulled the tie level minutes later.
If you take City against United games at the same stage (given a week forgiveness either side) you will find City have only lost one of the ten games played. On the 22nd March 1980, away at Old Trafford, City were struggling at the wrong end of the table. Despite the loss the club would go on to get thirteen points from the remaining eight games, eventually surviving by six points.
Half of the games City have won when they play United in this period, starting with the FA Cup game on March 27th 1926 in the Semi Final. This is probably where the term ‘Typical City' came from. In the FA Cup Final, and beating United 6-1 earlier on in the season, City lost the final and, despite heading into the final game of the season fourth from bottom and a point ahead, they were relegated. Goals scored in that season for City, 89.
It wouldn't be until 1968 when we would meet again in this period on the calender. Away to United goals from Bell, Heslop and Lee Mercer's side would go onto win six of the final nine to win the league.......similar scenario to our current situation?
Three times it would happen in the 1970's with 1970, 74 and 78 having us face United in the region between the 13th and 22nd March. The most interesting of these would be the 1970 match which I will get to later. 1974 and 1978 resulted in tied games, home and away respectively and no title challenge in either.
Two in the 1980's with that single defeat in 1980 and a draw in 1986, both taking place at Old Trafford and both on the 22nd. 1986 was our first season back in the top flight and, as a result, not too shabby.
Skipping the 1990's because the 1993, already covered, was the sole occasion we move to 2004 and that win in our first game at, what we now call, the Etihad. Goals from Shaun Wright Phillips, Robbie Fowler, Trevor Sinclair and Jon Macken gave us that 4-1 win. A decade later we would go to Old Trafford and beat United 3-0, the last time we won the Premier League. At the time of the game we had nine games left, our last draw was 0-0 away to Norwich, and we again went on a run of six wins and two draws, picking up 20 points.
Now, as promised, I will go back to that game in 1970. City had just won the League Cup (twenty one days earlier, the exact same amount of days between us lifting the trophy this year and Sunday). The victory with goals from Mike Doyle and Francis Lee (their goal coming from Brian Kidd!), but it happened right after we secured European progression and an eventual European trophy lift. Dare we dream?