Thursday, April 15, 2010

Manchester Derby Preview

The Overview
Derby Day. Not too long ago, in the days when the highest we could expect to finish was mid-table, the Home Derby was the only game we could look forward to, on the slim chance that we could have something to get one up over the Rags as they cantered their way to another piece of silverware. But, it's no longer just a game for bragging rights — it now actually has meaning in the context of a season.

The Rags previously claimed that they only cared when they played their "rivals" Liverpool (then Leeds, then Arsenal, and now Chelsea... it changes every season). It's time that they took Liccle Ol' Citeh a bit more seriously.

Norwich are in less-than-impressive form, are relying on veterans Van Der Sar, Bryan Riggs, Gary Chuckle, and Scholes, all of whom are well over 30, and they are also possibly missing their most important player Rayne Wooney with an ankle injury. So everything should point to a comfortable City win, right?

However, I don't think I can ever be confident going into any match against United — it's something that's bred into City fans from a young age. They are hurting after the last two weeks, and they know this is one of their last opportunities to stay in the hunt for the League.

Expect the rhetoric to come out in the lead up: Nigel De Jong will come out with his typical piece about how much this means to the team, Roberto Mancini will have a press-conference mentioning the word "important" seventy-five times, and some Rag player (more often than not, Scholes) will talk us down. The war of words have begun. The battle on the pitch is to follow.

The Form
Manchester City at home: 11-4-1
• Have lost only one game at home this season, to Everton.
• Second best form in the league after Chelsea.

Manchester United away: 9-3-5
• Gained only one point in the last six.
• Four points off first place with four matches remaining — a loss here could severely ruin their season.

Recent meetings:
• City haven't won a Derby in the League since the 2-1 (on their Special Day) at Vermin Towers in February 2008. United have won three League Derbies in a row.
• United have won both Derbies in injury time at Old Scaffold this season.

The Betting
Manchester City $2.60 Draw $3.20 Manchester United $2.40
City are as close to favourites as I've ever seen. I don't know how I feel about this to be honest. I don't believe it, personally.

Australian Fans: Where to Watch It
Sydney fans will be able to watch it at Cheers Bar, of course.

We will finally be unveiling the coveted 'Heart of the City' plaque to all and sundry. We'll have members there from as early as 5:30pm, to get on the beers early and making sure we have a decent spot, and to decorate both the home and away ends. I've got some top ideas planned.

If you are new to the cause, we will have a few song sheets so you can join in on the action. Kick off is at 9:45pm. We've never, ever, had a game so early on a Saturday night before, so it gives us a great opportunity to get a big crowd in.

We'll be taking plenty of photos and video of the night, so we can cut something together for both the official site, and for this one. I'm getting giddy already.

If you've never been before, there will be no better game to make your debut. But if you don't have any voice left by full-time, you haven't been trying hard enough. We want to out-number and out-sing those basterds in the pub, as well as out-play them on the pitch.

If you live elsewhere in this fine country, check the Facebook link for details on where to meet with fellow Blues. Melbourne fans will be meeting at Charles Dickens, Perth fans at Kangaroo Arms, and Brisbane Blues will be at the Pig and Whistle.

The Fearless Prediction
I dare not tempt fate with trying to guess the result.
But I predict it will be a cracker.

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