This Should Be About Revenge For United

Matt Stanger feels Man United need to go on a revenge mission against Man City after their thrashing at the Etihad earlier in the season. Plus, don't get cocky, Liverpool...

Last Updated: 25/03/14 at 09:51 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Forget N**rative, City Would Be Deserved Champions


It's a race not a beauty contest, but City may well finish first whilst still looking pretty sexy. Plus some things to ponder for Roy the Boy and use of the word 'effectively'...

City Looking To Peak At The Right Time


City can go top for the first time since January 29, whilst Paul Lambert, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce might all need wins to save their jobs. It's Daniel Storey's Big Weekend...

All Articles

Manchester City
The first of three games in hand on Chelsea and by far the most difficult. City face a season-defining week as they make the short trip to Old Trafford on Tuesday and then face Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday tea-time. Win both matches, and the title race tips in their favour. Lose, and that defeat at home to Chelsea in February will continue to sting.

If this fixture had been played last week, we would have expected City to steamroll United. The champions were on their knees following the 3-0 humbling at home to Liverpool, but have since staggered back to their feet by beating Olympiakos to reach the Champions League quarter-finals and cruising to a 2-0 victory over West Ham at Upton Park.

With United displaying encouraging balance in Robin van Persie's absence at the weekend, City face a somewhat unfamiliar test. The focal point of a front pairing of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney was replaced by a 'cuter' approach on Saturday, with Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa drifting between the lines and Ashley Young offering width on the right.

United's aim should be to get in behind City's high defensive line, with Mata looking to pull Vincent Kompany out of position and feed Rooney. Kompany, who returns from a one-match suspension on Tuesday, performed admirably against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, but too often this season he has looked suspect when forced to step up and track an opponent.

That was certainly the case in the home defeat to Chelsea and, with Martin Demichelis likely to partner the captain at the back against United, City's defence will require protection from both Fernandinho and Yaya Toure. That is not the only concern, however, as a goal drought among the team's strikers continues to pose a problem for Manuel Pellegrini.

Alvaro Negredo's blunt display against Fulham extended his run without a goal to nine matches while Edin Dzeko, who missed Saturday's game through illness, has been woefully below par in recent weeks. With Sergio Aguero ruled out of the derby with a hamstring injury, the responsibility should fall on Negredo's strong shoulders, but he will be looking to share the burden with Toure and the rest of the starting XI.

In truth, this is a match City should win, and one they need to win to build the momentum required to win the title. They have stumbled over the last two months, but can place nagging doubts firmly behind them with a dominant display at Old Trafford. Pellegrini knows he possesses the stronger team and will expect his players to perform accordingly. United can be bullied, and it is up to City to expose their weaknesses in the same ruthless manner as Liverpool.

Manchester United and David Moyes
After a good week for David Moyes brought two much-needed victories, United now face a far tougher test in their last chance to show they can compete for the title again next season. The first thing Moyes should do is avoid saying that City are favourites.

The manager deserved praise for his selection at Upton Park at the weekend - covered in Winners and Losers - but his record against the top half leaves much to be desired. United have managed just 11 goals in 14 games against the rest of the top ten, with Crystal Palace the only side to have scored fewer. Two wins in 14 matches against top-half teams is a remarkably poor return for the champions, and the way they were dominated by City at the Etihad back in September set the tone for a disappointing season.

Tuesday should be seen as a revenge mission. Moyes spent too much time in the build-up to the Liverpool game focusing on the fixture in the context of the season in general, but United's top-four hopes are long dead. They should instead be intent on damaging the title hopes of a bitter rival and giving their fans something to shout about. Beating City despite being in their weakest moment for some time would send out a significant message.

United impressed with their new-look line-up on Saturday, and there is a strong chance that Moyes will stick with the same forward line. Their roles will be slightly different, however, with Kagawa tasked to track the roaming Pablo Zabaleta on the right and Mata required to restrain Toure and Fernandinho as much as possible - which one imagines won't be very much at all. Attacking could well be the best form of defence for United, with Mata and Rooney clearly capable of causing plenty of problems for their opponents.

It will be interesting to see who Moyes starts in defence after partnering Michael Carrick with Phil Jones at the weekend. Logic would suggest that Carrick will return to midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini - with Darren Fletcher dropping to the bench - but lingering injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans, as well as Nemanja Vidic's suspension, have left Moyes with a problem. It is one that shouldn't be solved by turning to Chris Smalling, whose desperate form this season should preclude his inclusion in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad and yet, bizarrely, doesn't appear to have harmed his chances.

As many have argued, the Champions League quarter-final is a free pass to Moyes. No-one expects United to win the tie so, as long as they don't lose 8-0, the pressure on the manager is unlikely to increase any further. The same cannot be said for Tuesday's derby, however. United have been nothing short of dreadful in several Old Trafford outings this season and the fans are right to expect a response to the Liverpool defeat. Just six wins and 18 goals (as many as bottom club Fulham) in 14 home Premier League games simply isn't good enough. Tuesday offers an opportunity to begin putting it right.

A strong start is the most important thing for Arsenal after the massacre at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners have held a half-time lead only three times in their last 16 Premier League matches, which makes Saturday's capitulation seem a little less surprising.

In many ways struggling Swansea are the perfect opponent to help Arsenal regain some pride. In others, they could prove to be a pain in the backside. The Swans have averaged more possession (60%) than any other team in the Premier League this year, and they can frustrate the Gunners by holding on to the ball at the Emirates on Tuesday. Frustration leads to mistakes, and the possibility of a rare result to alleviate relegation fears.

It is Arsenal's job to nip Swansea's hopes in the bud. They may be struggling with another injury crisis, but the players who started on Saturday are better than their performance suggested and certainly possess enough quality to beat the team currently occupying 15th. They owe it to Arsene Wenger to bounce back and to the fans whose tantalising title dreams have been given false encouragement throughout the season.

Would it be going too far to claim that this is a game Everton should win? With Newcastle having nothing to play for and the Toffees still in with an outside shot of making the top four, it's vital that Roberto Martinez's side show their quality at St James' Park.

If Everton can pick up successive away victories against the Magpies and Fulham this week, they will go into the home clash with Arsenal on April 6 knowing they can - at the very least - close the gap to just five points. Throw a game in hand at home to Crystal Palace (on April 16) into the equation and suddenly those unlikely aspirations deserve careful consideration.

In many ways, it is better to be in the chasing pack than trying to secure what you have at this stage - something Arsenal found in the run-in last season. With the Gunners' title race effectively ending at Stamford Bridge, Everton can hope to sneak up on them like beautiful spring flowers slowly starting bloom.

Don't get cocky. On paper, this is the Reds' easiest fixture in the last eight, but then the trip to West Brom and home match against Aston Villa also looked pretty straightforward.

The worry for Liverpool is that they can't maintain their blistering form over the final eight matches. To win six in a row is a brilliant achievement, nine out of 11 even more so, but to continue that run over the next seven weeks - the standard that is required of the Reds - would be an incredible effort.

Wednesday's gimme at home to Sunderland will tell us a great deal about the potential for complacency.

West Ham
A chance to prevent back-to-back-to-back-to-back defeats at home to Hull.

Matt Stanger - follow him on Twitter.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


e made his power play to try and get Sheikhy to raise his wages or trade him to PSG. PSG were probably not interested and he is stuck with no cake and no vacation. @Jay_D> Surely you jest about FFP being real, right? All Platini is doing is making billionaries pay measly fines, so he and his cronies can get rich. If a fool can pay 50 mil for David Luiz, he will happily pay some fine to UEFA. FFP has failed as for it to succeed UEFA had to take it...

Toure: I am staying with City


uess we can expect Toure's explanation of his behaviour around the same time Pete Townshend publishes his book then.

Toure: I am staying with City


amn you Yaya, don't scare me like that! I only ate the icing. I didn't eat the soft and scrumptious middle - I will buy you another cake!

Toure: I am staying with City

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will move on without Luis Suarez

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists there is no bad blood between the club and the outgoing Luis Suarez.

Transfer news: Liverpool appear to be close to completing a deal for Loic Remy

Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Loic Remy with the French forward reportedly having his medical in Boston.

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward says Manchester United are still global giant

Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward insists the club are still the biggest in the world.

Mail Box

Anyone But Rooney. Or Baines. Or Hart.

There isn't a great deal of excitement in the Mailbox regarding England's potential new captain, but we have good stuff on Gerrard's development and a one club man team...

Goodbye Patrice And Farewell Steven...

Man United fans say a fond farewell to Patrice Evra in the mailbox while there are also thoughts on Steven Gerrard's retirement from England duty. Plus, some rare cricket bantz...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property