This weekend sees one of Manchester’s most anticipated events – the Manchester derby.
Sunday afternoon’s Premier League match will be the 177th Manchester derby and the first time the two sides have faced each other this season. The past week has certainly added another element of excitement to the event.
Continuing from last year’s record-breaking season when the Blues blew away the competition, City sit top of the league with a two point gap following last weekend’s 6-1 demolition of Southampton.
And for the second time in two games, Wednesday night’s Champions League fixture at home to Shakhtar Donetsk saw City put six goals past their opposition as they took one step closer to a last sixteen place.
Although many are already predicting a City victory on Sunday (you can get 7-1 odds on a United win), you certainly can’t rule out an upset.
It’s no secret United have struggled to really get going this season but they will be encouraged by important wins over Bournemouth and Juventus this past week.
Mourinho has had his share of criticism with many predicting he may not even make the end of the season. However, recent displays will have given the manager, players and fans more optimism for the derby.
It is also worth noting that United were one of only two teams to beat City in the Premier League last season and that defeat came at the Etihad after City led 2-0 at half time.
If there is one thing that United fans will respect about City, it’s the style of football they are currently playing. It is a style they are accustomed to themselves for the decades that they regularly outplayed their opposition playing some fantastic one touch football.
Now, however, the tables have turned, with the likes of Paul Scholes, a player who could run a game almost by himself at times, now retired.
United no longer have that threat that Scholes’ presence brought, but City do in the magician that is David Silva. Silva is blessed with an ability to pick out a pass from nothing and is surrounded by a team of great players just waiting for him to do so.
A few weeks ago, City put five goals past Burnley and the best part about it was each goal was scored by a different player, and yet again David Silva was at the heart of everything that City did well.
This week Silva said he felt the power balance in Manchester had shifted somewhat since his arrival at the Etihad.
Pointing to that 6-1 victory at Old Trafford as a pivotal moment, it’s clear for all to see that the past few years have belonged to City.
“United commanded a lot of respect when I arrived,” he said, speaking in his role as an ambassador for the Anfi Group, “but I think it changed from when we won at Old Trafford 6-1 and the mentality changed a little bit that day. Now I think we are held in great esteem.
“You remember a bit about every derby you’ve played in,” he said, “but that one, the result, and the fact that it was at United, the respect that United commanded in that period in time, makes it one that will forever go down in history.”
They will also need David de Gea on top form. He is one of the best in the business but he will be in for a busy afternoon on Sunday. And if United’s back four give the kind of performance they’ve been giving of late, it could be a terrible afternoon for the Red half of Manchester.
Read where to watch the Manchester derby if you haven’t got a ticket.