The Manchester Derby between defending champion Manchester United and last year’s runners-up Manchester City has grown to become one of the most hotly contested rivalries in Europe. Although United dominated this rivalry early on, the recent revival of City has brought this rivalry to the heights everyone was hoping it would one day become. Both teams are coming off impressive victories in their mid-week Champions League fixtures with City defeating Viktoria Plzen 3-0 and United beating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2. United and City come into the game level on 7 points apiece after 4 match days in the Premier League.
City and United have alternated wins and losses over their last 8 meetings which included 2 FA Community Shields and the now infamous 6-1 drubbing City laid on United in October 2012. The Manchester derby has not seen a draw since a 0-0 result on November 10th 2011 at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Matchups to Watch
City’s Defense vs United’s Attack and Vice Versa
City and United have arguably the two most dangerous attacks in the Premier League. Manchester United has last seasons top-scorer in Robin Van Persie (who scored the winner in this fixture last season) and Wayne Rooney (who scored his 200th goal with United against Leverkusen) while City have Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. The defenses of these two teams are widely known to be their weak link. City received a boost mid-week with the early return of captain Vincent Kompany while United will be somewhat concerned about the low-key performance from their defense against Leverkusen. This game will have goals, we all know that, but in the end it will come down to which teams defense can perform the best and make the least amount of mistakes.
Carrick/Fellaini vs Yaya Toure
The battle in the midfield will be a key factor in determining who comes out on top on Sunday. City and United have some of the best defensive midfielders in the world with United having Carrick and new-boy Fellaini and City having Yaya Toure. Fellaini has provided David Moyes with a new option in the middle of midfield while also giving Michael Carrick the protection he needs to go on his long runs up the field. Yaya Toure has arguably been City’s best player of the past 3 seasons, he seems to control the midfield at will and is able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants when on the ball. If United can shut him down and make him ineffective then they have a great chance at coming away with a positive result, if not, well we may be looking at a replay of that October 2012 game.
David Moyes vs Manuel Pellegrini
Sundays derby will be the 1st time that Manchester United will play City without Sir Alex Ferguson. New manager David Moyes actually has a fairly impressive resume against City from his time at Everton with 12 wins in 22 matches and only suffering defeat on 6 occasions. It would be interesting to see if Moyes takes after his predecessor and changes the teams mentality against City and if he can have the same late game influence on his players that Ferguson did. While United have had 1 manager for the last 26 years, City’s new manager Manuel Pellegrini will be their 13th manager to take the team into a derby in that span. Pellegrini comes to City after a reasonably successful spell at Spanish side Malaga which followed his catastrophic spell at Real Madrid. The battle of the managers will be one of the most interesting storylines in Sunday’s Manchester Derby.
Where to Watch
The first derby of the 2013/14 season between Manchester United and Manchester City will be played on Sunday, September 22 at 11am ET and will be showed on NBC Sports Network and through NBC Sports Live Extra online.