City, United set for Manchester derby

Manchester, England (SportsNetwork.com) – All eyes will be fixated on
Sunday’s match at the Etihad as Manchester City will host Manchester United in
one of world football’s most renown derbies.

The rivalry has intensified in recent years with the two sides alternating
title triumphs since the start of the 2010-11 season.

City, the current title holder, enters the weekend in a superior league
position to United, occupying third place in the table with 17 points where it
sits four points clear of the Red Devils.

A fortnight ago, the Citizens appeared to be primed to steamroll United. The
reigning champions went on a seven-match unbeaten run across all competitions,
a streak that included a 4-1 demolition of Tottenham in Premier League action.

But a surprise loss at West Ham United last weekend was exacerbated by a
humiliating defeat to Newcastle in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, leaving
the Citizens under a bit of pressure ahead of one of their biggest games of
the season.

To make matters worse, City manager Manuel Pellegrini fielded a strong side
against Newcastle and not only was rewarded with a defeat, but also a few
worrying injuries to key players.

David Silva hobbled off the pitch early on in Wednesday’s clash due to a knee
injury, leaving the Spaniard as a major doubt to suit up against United. Yaya
Toure also left the game with a slight knock, but it appears as though his
exit was purely precautionary.

Either way, it’s safe to say that the Citizens are limping their way into the
derby, both in terms of form and fitness.

United, by contrast, enter the clash on the back of a pair of uplifting
performances.

The Reds Devils needed a late goal from Daley Blind to get a 2-2 draw at West
Bromwich Albion two weeks ago and an even later goal from Robin van Persie in
order to salvage a point from a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea last time out.

United is not accustomed to settling for draws, but the nature in which the
club persevered to avoid coming away empty-handed is a testament to the team’s
resilience.

The visitors will now be boosted by the return of Wayne Rooney, who was ruled
out of action for the month of October due to a three-match suspension. A
knock in training this week left his status for the derby in limbo, but the
England international has been passed fit, giving his side a big lift.

Falcao should also be in the mix to play some sort of role in Sunday’s derby.
The Colombian striker played a minor role in United’s draw at West Brom after
a heavy travel schedule from the international break and was unable to feature
against Chelsea last time out due to a minor knock sustained in training.

Following the derby on Sunday, Tottenham will attempt to snap a run of two
straight league defeats when it heads to Villa Park to face an Aston Villa
side that has lost five straight Premier League contests and has not scored a
league goal since a 1-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 13.

Liverpool will return to Premier League action on Saturday with a potentially
tricky fixture against Newcastle at St. James’ Park. The Reds are facing
Newcastle at the wrong time as the Magpies have won their last two league
contests in addition to edging City in the league cup during the week.

Chelsea remained firmly fixated at the top of the table despite settling for a
just a point at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Blues will hope to get back in the
win column on Saturday when they welcome Queens Park Rangers to Stamford
Bridge.

Arsenal has been held to five draws through its first nine game of the season,
though the club did manage to get a 2-0 victory over Sunderland last time out.
The Gunners will be aiming to avoid more dropped points on Saturday when they
host a Burnley side that is hoping to climb out of the cellar.

Also on Saturday, Everton will take on Swansea City at Goodison Park, second-
place Southampton will square off against Hull City at the KC Stadium, West
Brom will head to the KP Stadium to face Leicester City and Stoke City will
welcome a surging West Ham United side to the Britannia.

Monday’s lone contest will pit Crystal Palace up against struggling Sunderland
at Selhurst Park.