Can City be halted?

United to use derby to re­store pride

The Witness - - SPORT -

THE rise of Manch­ester City in the past decade has raised the ques­tion of whether the Manch­ester derby has fi­nally re­placed United’s clash with Liver­pool as the pre-em­i­nent derby in English foot­ball’s North-West heart­land.

While there are no short­age of United fans who, for ei­ther his­toric rea­sons or a sense of in­ter-city com­pe­ti­tion, still say that Liver­pool is the ul­ti­mate grudge match, there is no doubt the Manch­ester derby has grown in stature and rel­e­vance.

Sun­day’s game at the Eti­had Sta­dium will cer­tainly have the real edge of a derby although, as has been the case for sev­eral sea­sons, City will start it from a po­si­tion of su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Pep Guardi­ola’s side look down from their perch on a United team stuck in sev­enth place — and that hurts ev­ery­one con­nected with the Old Traf­ford club.

Few of United’s faith­ful truly be­lieve José Mour­inho’s team have a re­al­is­tic chance of fin­ish­ing above Guardi­ola’s cham­pi­ons in May but a win on Sun­day would re­store some lost pride.

That was the case in April when Paul Pogba scored twice as United came back from two goals down at the break to win 3-2 and deprive City of the sat­is­fac­tion of clinch­ing the ti­tle on their home turf against their neigh­bours.

City’s loud cel­e­bra­tions of their 2-1 win at Old Traf­ford last De­cem­ber had ran­kled with Mour­inho and his play­ers and they showed that in the tense at­mos­phere of a derby they were ca­pa­ble of lift­ing their game and rat­tling City.

They will need to be fir­ing on all cylin­ders to stop Guardi­ola’s side, who have scored 11 goals in their past two home games in the Pre­mier League — putting five past Burn­ley and hit­ting Southamp­ton for six.

City are un­beaten in the league with nine wins from 11 games while United have won just six and lost three and al­ready trail their neigh­bours by nine points.

Both sides will be buoy­ant af­ter con­trast­ing Cham­pi­ons League wins on Wed­nes­day when City trounced Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 and United plucked a 2-1 vic­tory over Ju­ven­tus out of the fire with two late goals in Turin.

Liver­pool, smart­ing from their Cham­pi­ons League loss to Red Star Bel­grade on Tues­day, will be hop­ing that United can do them a favour and take points off City.

Jür­gen Klopp’s side host bot­tom club Ful­ham while sec­ond-placed Chelsea, also two points be­hind City, have a tougher task at home to Ever­ton.

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, in fourth place, will look for their sev­enth away win so far this sea­son when they travel to Crys­tal Palace to­mor­row evening.

— Reuters.

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