So this is it the one that we have all been waiting for, the Manchester derby and to be honest the stakes do not get a lot higher than what we will witness this afternoon. Hosts United simply cannot afford to lose as it will all but confirm this season as a one horse race for the title.
While City will be going out for a win, not simply because of local bragging rights but also the fact hat victory at Old Trafford this afternoon will see them record a 14th straight league win and with that a place in the history books for the most successive victories.
Last weekend it was a a late victory over West Ham which saw them edge to 13 wins, a record they now share with both Arsenal and Chelsea but there is no doubting that Pep Guardiola and his men will want the accolade for themselves and where sweeter a place in which to earn it then on your arch rivals home turf.
It is the second blockbuster fixture in a row for United after last Saturday saw them play in what was without question the game of the season so far. From an entertainment point of view, this afternoon’s offering is going to have its work cut out if it is to match the spectacle at The Emirates eight days ago.
Quite frankly it was a stupendous game of football, one that almost defied logic as Manchester United and David De Gea in particular had to deal with no less than 33 shots and even after Arsenal laying siege on their opposition’s net it was still Jose Mourinho’s men who came out on top.
And Manchester City had to lay siege of their own this time last week when they faced West Ham at The Etihad, after Pedro Ogbonna’s header gave the Hammers something of a shock first half lead, it was another Spanish goalkeeper who then had to brace himself for wave after wave of attack.
This time around it was Adrian who felt the full force of Manchester City’s attack but unlike his compatriot De Gea a day before he could not quite withstand everything that was thrown at him as David Silva prodded home a late winner to burst the bubble of the traveling East London outfit.
That goal from Silva kept their winning streak going but their undefeated streak in all competitions has come to a close after events in midweek. With qualification and more importantly top of the group confirmed in the Champions League it is fair to say that they perhaps took their eyes off of the task in hand while facing Shakhtar.
They were certainly caught cold at the Donbass Arena as the Ukrainian giants confirmed their place in the Round of 16 thanks to a 2-1 win in front of their own fans. It was also a 2-1 scoreline in the other Champions League game involving a Manchester club however this time around it was United who come out on top even if they had to come from behind after CSKA Moscow silenced Old Trafford with a first half goal.
One person who was silenced on a particular topic last weekend was Jose Mourinho in regards to Paul Pogba’s sending off. The former Porto and Chelsea manager was tight lipped when quizzed after the game in regards to the red card that was shown in the second half and one that sees the French international suspended for this afternoon’s big encounter.
There is no doubting how much of a blow his absence will be as it is fair to say that United have certainly found their stride since his return form injury and you wonder without his dynacism in the centre of the park, just how much of a detriment that will be for the Red Devils.
To be honest I think it could be the element that shifts the outcome into City’s favour. They will not want to settle for a draw especially with the record breaking reasons above. They also have the perfect opportunity to land a hammer blow in regards to United’s title hopes. I think this will be an away win for this afternoon.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – do you agree?
While not forgetting the small matter of the #Manchester derby
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) December 8, 2017