Man City vs. Man Utd: can Jose Mourinho ruin Pep Guardiola’s title party?
City look to bounce back from their Anfield mauling by securing the Premier League trophy tomorrow
If ever Manchester City needed a home derby against United, it’s now. Saturday’s Premier League clash presents the perfect opportunity to put Wednesday’s humiliating 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in the quarter-final of the Champions League behind them.
Everything about the trip to Anfield was upsetting, from the attack on their coach - for which Liverpool will have to answer to Uefa - to what happened in the most traumatic 45 minutes of City’s season.
The three goals they conceded may well have ended their Champions League dream for another season, but what better way to bounce back - and possibly fill the squad with the self-belief to overturn the deficit in Tuesday’s return leg - than beating United tomorrow evening?
Not to mention that if they beat United, City will be crowned league champions.
It was pure joy when Sergio Aguero scored his last-gasp goal against QPR in May 2012 to snatch the title out of United’s hands, but to actually be crowned champions by beating United would be a soothing balm to the wounded pride of every Sky Blue supporter.
But can City recover in under three days? Their back four of Kyle Walker, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte was ripped apart by the Reds. That in turn resulted in uncharacteristically flustered performances from Leroy Sane and David Silva.
A question mark remains, however, over whether United have the ability to press and harry City the way Liverpool did. The Anfield side are City’s bogey team, the only team to have beaten them in the league, and their victories have come in the same fashion, playing with blinding pace and pin-point precision.
United knocked Arsenal off-balance at the Emirates in similar style in December, scoring twice in the first 11 minutes en route to a 3-1 win, and they’ll need another high-tempo start to exploit the doubts that will be lurking in their neighbours’ head.
Despite the 16-point gap between the leaders and United, Jose Mourinho’s men are on course for their best league finish since Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge five years ago.
They won’t win the title, of course, but they’ll want to kick City when they’re down and send them into next week’s second leg against Liverpool feeling even more fearful than they are right now.
Mourinho has in the past been accused of “parking the bus” at away matches, but he surely knows that if United are to have any chance of victory they must attack, attack, attack at the Etihad.
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
- When: tomorrow
- Where: Etihad Stadium
- Kick-off time: 5.30pm
What TV channel is the Manchester derby on?
Sky Sports will show Manchester City vs. Manchester United live on its Main Event and Premier League channels. Coverage starts at 5pm.