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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Preview

The Carling Cup semi final first leg is here, its Manchester United versus Manchester City, and it promises to be a mouth-watering encounter. City are in decent form, whereas United are in a crisis according to the media, but who will come out on top? Will Carlos Tevez score against his former team? Or will we prove that there is only one team in Manchester?

Not having won any silverware for 34 years the city’s other team will be out with something to prove and Sir Alex Ferguson is not taking them lightly, “You have to recognise they (Manchester City) are a competitor now. They are making a much better fist of their league programme this year than they have done in the past. We have had to wait a long time for it to be like that. It’s a popular argument that the match means more to City. As far as I am concerned it is a semi-final,” stated Ferguson.

A semi final indeed, in 34 years City have seen United lift 25 major trophies, and Sir Alex as seen 13 City managers come and go. Newly appointed Roberto Mancini realises the importance of winning that elusive trophy, “I am new in Manchester City, so the trophy is important to me. But the same is true for the players and the club because when you start to win trophies, you change your mentality, we want the Carling Cup. But it must only be the start,” said the Italian.

The team selection could be interesting on United’s part. Sir Alex did say before the first attempt to play the fixture he would stick with the kids and there should be no reason to doubt him, or should there. We have been in terrible form and a settled line up could well be just what we need.

Edwin van der Sar should continue in goal, making his 200th appearance for United, as it would be unproductive to leave him out after one game. Tomasz Kuszczak will likely be keeping the bench warm as Ben Foster has a back complaint.

In defence, Nemanja Vidic could make a return to the first team, along side either Wes Brown or Jonny Evans, more likely the latter given Brown’s lack of form recently. Patrice Evra at left back is a no-brainer and Gary Neville, our Club Captain should keep his place, despite the lackluster performance against Burnley. Rio Ferdinand and John O’Shea are still out.

Being away from home, Sir Alex would likely field a five-man midfield. In the centre, Michael Carrick and Anderson accompanied by Darren Fletcher, who returns from suspension. Antonio Valencia has been in sparkling form of late and will look to terrorize the City defence. On the left either Gabriel Obertan or Ji-Sung Park, considering Park’s lack of playing time, he will probably get the nod. Giggs is being rested for this one.

Wayne Rooney cannot be looked past for the lone striker role. Michael Owen or Mame Biram Diouf will make a cameo at some point in the game. Dimitar Bebatov has a dead leg.

City go into the tie missing a number of players, obviously Adebayor is on compassionate leave. Wayne Bridge and Joleon Lescott are out with knee injuries, Santa Cruz and Patrick Vieira are out with calf injuries and Kolo Toure is on African Cup of Nations duty.

One player who is itching to play is Carlos Tevez, I want to play in this match for many reasons,” Tevez said. “The squad is confident, morale is high and if we get a victory over United it will be sensational.” It remains to be seen if the Argentine can score. Something he failed to do in the 4-3 game earlier this season.

Interestingly enough the last three Manchester derbies at Eastlands have ended 1-0, twice in United’s favour and under Sir Alex Ferguson United have contested seven League Cup semi-finals, reaching the final on six occasions.

It promises to be an intriguing tie, but a difficult one. Lets hope we can take an advantage to Old Trafford next week and finish them off on our own patch.

Prediction: 2-1 City

Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Evra, Evans, Vidic, Neville, Park, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia, Rooney.

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Also see: Manchester United v Manchester City preview.