Friday, 27 April 2012

City vs United: Match Preview

Back from the dead?

They think it's all over... not quite yet.
Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

By David Walker

At 6pm on Easter Sunday it appeared that nothing short of divine intervention could resurrect Manchester City’s stumbling bid to become Premier League champions.

The faith of even the most devout City followers had all but withered, as Roberto Mancini’s misfiring troops were gunned down by a rejuvenated Arsenal and left trailing eight points behind Manchester United with just six games to play.

After all, miracles don’t happen - Fergie’s tried and tested troops couldn’t possibly falter, their experience of successful title run-ins would propel them over the finishing line.  ‘CHAMP20NS’ t-shirts were in full production and United diehard Fred Done’s BetFred bookies were gleefully paying out as City’s odds slipped to 12/1 with United at 1/40 - GAME OVER!

What had been billed as a juicy mouthwatering title decider – the all Mancunian shoot out – on April 30 was suddenly reduced to a dead rubber, with mischievous elements of the media talking about City having to roll out a ‘guard of honour’ at the Etihad for the all-conquering Reds.

Well the ‘swords’ will be out on Monday night but not to arch ceremonially over United’s heroes. No, these razor sharp rapiers will be there to slash the Reds to ribbons and plunge a near fatal wound into United’s hopes of retaining the title.

It might be pushing the biblical blathering a touch too far but, in Carlos Tevez, City have their own ‘Lazarus’ risen from the ‘dead’ – or the subs bench at the Allianz Arena – and ready to redeem himself.

City’s home turf historically derided as the ‘theatre of base comedy’ is set to be the stage of one of English football’s greatest comebacks for both the team and the individual – Manchester City and Tevez.

It’d be every headline writer’s dream if Carlos scores the winner and banishes the Munich ‘misunderstanding’… and all to a deafening crescendo of  ‘Fergie Fergie sign him up, Fergie sign him up’ from the ecstatic blue hordes.

Beat United, boost the present +6 goals difference advantage and City will be 180 minutes away from the promised land – a first ever Premier League crown and the proud boast of Champions of England.

The momentum is with City. Three wins and nine points garnered, while United have lost to Wigan, hammered a hapless Villa and inexplicably surrendered a two-goal lead on two occasions to Everton.

Can we win our second trophy in successive years?
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe

There’s a feeling of mutual disbelief on both sides ahead of Monday night – City can’t believe they’re back in it, whereas United are ruing five points dropped from nine.

If City win, the title race isn’t over. If United win it is.

A City victory will come if they play at a fast tempo supplying Aguero and Tevez deep into United’s half where the Argentine duo can wreak havoc among the visiting defence.

It calls for a gargantuan gut-busting effort from the Blues to pressurise United throughout, denying Scholes time on the ball, ruffling his composure and effectively shutting off United’s creative source.

A Blue triumph, followed by wins against Newcastle and QPR, and City will have their own Messiah in Mancini - risen from the Easter ashes.

Player watch

                                             City's midfield     vs      Paul Scholes

Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe

We need to simply thwart Scholes and stop United from playing! Rather than a one-to-one man marking job, City’s collective midfield need to press and harrass Paul Scholes throughout and strip away his composure.

Revered by Reds, reviled by Blues, Scholes is credited with almost singlehandedly keeping United’s title bid on track since his comeback in January.

The likes of Yaya, Tevez, Aguero, Barry & De Jong need to jostle and hustle the veteran red and deprive him of the opportunity to hit ‘killer’ passes through the midfield, thereby cutting supply lines to Rooney and the threat on the flanks.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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