Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Saturday February 9 2008
10th February 2008
A very emotional day for the whole of Manchester as this game marks the occasion of fifty years when mainly twenty three Manchester people lost their lives tragically on the runway of Munich airport in 1958. The game sees two sides meeting in a derby where in recent seasons City have the better record, although United completed the double over City last season.
Eriksson talks about City and the Derby: "Everybody is up for this one. You don`t need to say anything special, if you are not motivated by going to Old Trafford to play football, then you shouldn`t play football!' 'We can`t do much more than we have to concentrate on the game because we have a big task ahead of us.' '"We can be more than heroes, it`s an opportunity for us to show that the season is not over for us, our players have too much pride for that. We have 13 games left to play and we are going to fight right until the end of the season." Eriksson then goes on to talk about the physicalities of a derby match: 'Last week against Arsenal it took us 19 minutes to give away a foul. That is a long time in a game of football and I don`t want to see that again.' 'I don`t want us to be a stupid team and kick like others do, but you can`t let the opponents dominate you. Sometimes you have to push them, tackle them or whatever, but it can`t take 19 minutes before you are close to them. 'As for United, again I am not worried about an over aggressive style when they are up against it, they know what happened in August and that is enough for them.'
Louis Saha is not quite ready to return from a knee injury but Ferguson may be tempted to include Gary Neville, who has overcome a serious ankle problem. The likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who did not feature for their countries in midweek, are likely to start. Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to keep up his fantastic form after an unusually subdued performance for Portugal against Italy, while Carlos Tevez will lead the line with Wayne Rooney serving a one-match suspension. Also Ferguson is considering giving 17-year-old striker Danny Welbeck his senior debut.
Without doubt this player is in the top three best players in the world at present as many millions of fantasy managers will testify. On his day he can single handedly destroy any team.
City have added Felipe Caicedo and Benjani Mwaruwari to their squad in the last couple of weeks to strengthen their front line and Benjani is almost certain to start against United. Daniel Sturridge started in the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal last week but may have to be content with a place on the bench, along with Emile Mpenza and Darius Vassell. Nery Castillo is out with a shoulder problem, while Michael Johnson (abdominal strain) and Valeri Bojinov (knee) are long-term absentees and Elano and Corluka are suspended. So that would leave Nedum Onuoha to come into the right back position should he have shaken his knock off otherwise Eriksson might have to do a bit of shuffling around at the back.
He aims to make an immediate impact to the return of the venue of his last league game, although this time he will be wearing the more prestigious City shirt.
City have failed to win at their near neighbours United since the infamous Denis Law backheel victory in 1974. But City have managed to frustrate United on three of their last meetings there with credible draws. City have only recorded two away victories and have not taken a point from two of the big four away from home. United have taken maximum points from all their home games since their opening day draw with Reading.
Howard Webb - controversially allowed Santa Cruz's second goal at City after a conflab with his assistant. I just hope he can be strong and neutral in this all important game. Although he has yet to show a red card all season; could this be his first?
As much as I would like City to take something from this game, with Johnson and Elano missing from our midfield we will be overawed and I think it will be an easy 2-0 victory for United.
A week's break for City. They face Everton at Home on Monday 25th February with an 8pm kick off.
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Date:Saturday February 9 2008
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