Friday, February 11, 2011

United's title hopes could well hinge on derby result...

United suffered their first league defeat of the season last weekend against bottom of the table Wolves; it was an inept performance and yet after the game Ferguson praised his team for remaining unbeaten. In point of fact, it was something of a mystery how United had remained unbeaten for so long given there's been too many poor performances on the road.

Tomorrow, Manchester City are the visitors to Old Trafford for what will be a lunchtime derby showdown. The pressure is well and truly on United who we are told will be without Ferdinand, Evans (no great loss on current form) and importantly Hernandez.

The loss of Ferdinand and Hernandez means that Ferguson's options on the bench will be limited. You have to wonder if Ferguson now regrets allowing Macheda and Welbeck to go out on loan because, realistically, it means he can only call on Michael Owen - but of course in last season's corresponding fixture, the former Liverpool striker scored the winner in a 4-3 thriller; United fans will be desperately hoping that lightning strikes twice if Owen is called upon.

United have by far the best home record in the division, as for City, only Arsenal have a superior away record - so something will have to give. City are in third place behind the Gunners, but a win tomorrow could give Mancini's team the momentum they need if they are to be serious contenders.

A loss for either club could well have a knock-on and of course it would mean that United will have lost two games on the spin. Despite the fact that United are at home, City will fancy their chances of coming away with all three points, especially given the likely absence of Rio Ferdinand. Chris Smalling will play alongside Vidic, but whenever United have been without one of the first choice central defenders, the defence has been shaky.

Despite having a four point lead at the top, United know full well that they cannot afford to drop many points between now and the season end especially given the number of difficult looking away games on the horizon. United simply cannot afford to lose the derby.

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