Manchester derby to be shown in billion homes
Only four countries will not broadcast match Toure says City firepower has scared rivals United
Sunday’s Manchester derby is on course to be the most expensive and, possibly, the most widely viewed Premier League game in history.
Manchester City have the chance to open up an 11-point lead over their nearest rivals United at the top of the table with a recordequalling 14th consecutive league win in a game that will beamed into one billion homes across 189 countries.
There are only four UN registered countries where the game will not be broadcast – North Korea, Cuba, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Moldova – and the match could yet challenge the biggest domestic live audience in the Premier League era, when 4.081 million viewers watched City beat United 1-0 in April 2012 en route to lifting their first title for 44 years. With the combined transfer value of the two teams’ starting XIS likely to top £650 million, the game is also expected to be the most expensive football has staged.
City suffered a first loss of the season in their 2-1 Champions League defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk in sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday night and only returned to Manchester yesterday afternoon after a gruelling fourday stay in Ukraine. But midfielder Yaya Toure believes the defeat will help to focus minds at City after a run of 20 successive victories and is convinced United will be afraid of an attack which has plundered 62 goals in 23 matches.
United faced 33 shots against Arsenal in their 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday but Toure does not expect Jose Mourinho’s side – who attracted criticism for a perceived negative approach in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in October – to be so open against City, instead seeking to get bodies behind the ball and break on the counter-attack.
“This game can give us a lift for the future,” the City midfielder said. “This year, I think, when you see United, they are going to be worried about us. That’s going to make them very dangerous on the counter-attack and we have to be ready for that. Otherwise, we will see the game they played against Arsenal a few days ago, so we have to be careful. We don’t want to lose. We have to keep this kind of gap on United, because now, when I see United playing games against big teams, they always wait for a mistake to hit them on the counter-attack. It’s a huge game.
“The people around the club, when we start to win a lot of games, start to say a lot of things and it’s not good. Some of us could relax and drop our levels. So, if you have to choose a moment to lose, then this would be the right one.”
A huge security operation will be in place on Sunday and fans are being urged to arrive early, especially as snow and freezing temperatures are forecast and traffic is expected to be heavy, with disruption to the tram network and Christmas shoppers flocking into Manchester.
Pep Guardiola, the City manager, is hoping Sergio Aguero can use the derby as a springboard to rediscover his best form. Aguero is likely to keep his place up front as Guardiola places his faith in the player’s experience and formidable scoring record in the fixture.
The Argentine has eight goals in 11 appearances against United and is expected to be preferred to fellow striker Gabriel Jesus. But Guardiola harbours some concern that Aguero’s intensity has dropped since he returned to action in late October after being involved in a car crash in Amsterdam the previous month and wants to see more from the 29-year-old. Although Aguero has found the net five times in nine matches since the crash, four of those goals have come from the penalty spot.
City have some doubts over captain Vincent Kompany, although he is likely to start against United. Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi and David Silva are also expected to play despite minor problems.
Meanwhile, the United manager, Jose Mourinho, is likely to have defender Phil Jones and midfielder Marouane Fellaini available. Jones has missed United’s past six matches through injury but he has been training this week and could even challenge Victor Lindelof for a starting place. Fellaini is more likely to be among the substitutes with the Belgian still feeling some pain in his left knee.
United and City – who faced each other in Houston in July in the first derby to be staged outside the UK – could play each other again in the US next summer. Both clubs are expected to tour the country again and there is understood to be an appetite on both sides for a derby.
Title ambitions: Yaya Toure