D-Day For City As United Prepare For Onslaught
Well it's finally here, the moment that all City fans have been looking forward to since the Carling Cup semi-final defeat at the start of the year.
Only a few season's ago every City fan would have been looking forward to this game as the highlight of the season and a resounding victory against the munchers of Prawnville would have been treated as if winning a cup.
But that was then. This City is a different animal. No longer a selling club or whipping boy for the top tier sides, but an equal in every sense of the word.
This Blues side is a City full of belief , ability and with a defence that has got its act together and a manager who can formulate a game plan and actually see it through to the end.
And United fans, players and a certain red-nosed Scot can sense what may be coming. For whether its today, tomorrow or next season, every United fan and player knows that City are on the United trail like a pack of wolves on the scent of a wounded animal and sooner or later the game will be up.
The fear is now firmly with United whether they'll admit it or not and they are now the ones sweating in a pool of their own -well excrement for want of a better word.
The first league derby away from home was a barn stormer with both teams looking to send out a signal of intent to the rest of the league and more importantly one another.
Trafford may have won the game 4-3 but it was City who came away with the plaudits as they played some scintillating counter-attacking football with Craig Bellamy ripping the Reds' defence ragged.
The manner in which the rags scored their winner didn't help as an injury time goal by Michael Owen gave United the points after Craig Bellamy had equalised on 90 minutes.
The goal was scored in the 110th minute of stoppage time and although the victory was theirs the damage had already been done. Psychologically the Blue half of Manchester had proved to themselves that they could compete on level pegging with one of the best teams in Europe in their own back yard and they had nothing to fear.
City proved this in the second and third derbies of the season when the two rivals faced faced off in the two-legged League Cup semi-final.
City comfortably won the first leg at Eastlands 2-1 but United's experience in huge European ties and talisman Wayne Rooney dug them out of a huge whole with a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford to take them to Wembley.
Yet City will have again taken the positives from those games and the prospect of ruining United's record breaking title run coupled with a Champions League place will fire them up making them too hot for Fergie's fledglings.
Without a referee and command of the Old Trafford stop watch Ferguson will have to rely on the league's best defence to stay focused and Rooney to be fit.
One things for sure, Mancini will be telling his team to go for the jugular and in Tevez, Bellemy and Adebayor City have the teeth to really maul United.