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Manchester United v Arsenal Preview

Manchester United’s blockbuster summer signing Robin van Persie takes centre stage on Saturday as the former Arsenal skipper comes up against his old employers for the first time in an United shirt.

The Dutch international, who scored 132 times during his seven years with the Gunners before departing in a £24million deal this summer, has already made an impact at Old Trafford. Van Persie already has seven goals to his name from just seven Premier League starts to show why Sir Alex Ferguson was so happy to land his signature despite competition from Manchester City and Juventus. The striker’s priceless ability to win games on his own will be sorely missed by the fans who once idolised him, and even though Arsene Wenger has called for respect from the travelling fans, the hostility is likely to come out from the away section.

Arsenal also need to banish the memories of last season’s Premier League visit to Old Trafford in August, when they suffered an 8-2 humiliation in what ranks as one of Wenger’s darkest days in his otherwise successful career.

The London club are six points behind United and while it will be to immature to write them off their title ambitions in November, a nine-point gap would be a significant deficit to bridge. On the other hand, victory for Ferguson’s men would take them at the top of the table for the first time this season as Chelsea are not in action until later in day when they travel to Swansea.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

The Red Devils have no fresh injury issues following their two dramatic matches against Chelsea over the past week. Defender Chris Smalling continues to make good progress in training, but the game at Old Trafford will come too soon. Fellow centre-back Phil Jones (knee) is also not ready, while Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Shinji Kagawa (both knee) remain sidelined. Sir Alex Ferguson made a host of changes for the Capital One Cup clash and will bring back his big players for the big Premier League encounter.

Arsenal

The Gunners will go back to a more recognized team after changing their entire starting XI for the surprising Capitol One Cup success at Reading. Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna are in contention, but Theo Walcott may be back on the bench after playing whole 120 minutes at the Madjeski. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a fitness test, but winger Gervinho (ankle) will be out for around three weeks, while defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh), first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) all continue their rehab.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 193
Manchester United Wins – 84
Draw – 42
Arsenal Wins – 67

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

22-Jan-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
28-Aug-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
01-May-11 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United
12-Mar-11 – FA Cup – Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal
13-Apr-10 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

FORM GUIDE

Manchester United – LWWWW
United come into this match on the back of a very important win at Stamford Bridge in the league and are currently just one point behind leaders Chelsea in second place.

31-Oct-12 – Captial One Cup – Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United
28-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United

Arsenal – WWLLW
The Gunners lie in sixth place in the Premier League, six points behind their opponents having won four, drawn three and lost two of their nine games.

30-Oct-12 – Capital One Cup – Reading 5-7 Arsenal
27-Oct-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
24-Oct-12 – Champions League – Arsenal 0-2 Schalke 04
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Norwich City 1-0 Arsenal
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
All eyes will be on the former Arsenal man on Saturday. The 29-year-old has added an extra dimension to United’s attack this season, and is the club’s top goal scorer with nine goals in all competitions. The Netherlands international will be keen to show his former club what they lost. However, he will show some respect to the club he represented for seven years but most Arsenal fans won’t feel the same.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
The 23-year-old has been in headlines this week, for reasons on and off the pitch. Contract talks are stalling because the England international isn’t happy with his lack of playing time, but after scoring a hat-trick against Reading in midweek he is making it very hard for Arsene Wenger to leave him out. Walcott on song is a great attacking player and added to the likes Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere, they could easily stun the Red Devils.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra (C); Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young; Robin van Persie.

De Gea is most likely to take back his place in between the sticks from Anders Lindegaard after the Danish international let in five goals against Chelsea in the mid-week. Ferdinand and Evans will return to central defence after the youngsters – Scott Wootton and Michael Keane – failed to stand up to the challenge at Stamford Bridge. Alexander Buttner, who was substituted at half time, will also make way for Evra. Carrick and Cleverley are expected to return in the midfield along with Valencia and Young on the wings. Rooney and Van Persie were rested for midweek clash and the star strike duo will take field against an under-performing Arsenal defence.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Vito Mannone; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (C), Andre Santos; Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta; Theo Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski; Olivier Giroud.

First choice keeper Wojciech Szcesny is close to recovery but the Pole is not fit to make a start against the Red Devils, leaving Mannone as the only option for Wenger. Kieran Gibbs is also out with injury, giving Brazilian full-back Andre Santos more first team action this season. After his hat-trick in the mid-week against Reading, Theo Walcott may get the nod on the right wing in place of Aaron Ramsey, while both Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh are expected to be back on the bench after their impressive performances in the Capital One Cup. Giroud did score against Reading but his league record has been very poor but Wenger will most likely rely on the Frenchman yet again.

OPTA FACTS

  • 1 – Wayne Rooney scored his first Premier League goal, his first in the Premier League for Manchester United and his 100th Premier League goal against Arsenal.
  • 1 – Only one of Arsenal’s 14 league goals this season have come before the half-hour mark.
  • 5 – Manchester United have scored and conceded at least two goals in the same Premier League game five times this season.
  • 7 – Manchester United have won seven and lost none of their last eight against Arsenal at Old Trafford in all competitions.
  • 9 – Manchester United have won nine of their last 10 meetings with the Gunners in all competitions.
  • 10 – Arsenal have scored just 10 goals in 20 Premier League visits to Old Trafford, with last season (8-2 defeat) being the only time they have netted two in one game.
  • 21 – Robin van Persie has hit the woodwork 21 times since August 2009, nine more times than any other Premier League player in the same period.

REFEREE

Name – Mike Dean
Based – Wirral
Age – 44
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 15
Red Cards – 0

MATCH ODDS

Manchester United 8/11, Draw 13/5, Arsenal 4/1

PREDICTION

It’s been an incredibly entertaining goal-filled week in which both sides conceded five goals in the Capital One Cup. This fixture last season delivered an equally ridiculous scoreline when Manchester United ran out 8-2 winners. Arsenal’s failure to score in league games this season and having to see Robin van Persie play against them will surely make matters worse for the North London side. The game is expected to be another entertaining one for the neutrals, but Sir Alex’s side should have too much for the Gunners in this one.

Predicted Score: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

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Chelsea v Manchester United Preview

First meets second in the Premier League on Super Sunday as Chelsea host Manchester United in arguably the biggest game of the season so far and one that could have long term consequences on the title race. 

Chelsea currently have a four-point lead in the table and so will remain at the top no matter what happens in London on Sunday. But Sir Alex Ferguson will want his side to deliver some psychological damage on Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, who lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in their midweek defence of the Champions League.

United, who came from two goals down to pick up a 3-2 win over Braga in Europe thanks to the heroics of Javier Hernandez, also visit Stamford Bridge with some reason to be confident. Last season’s Premier League runners-up have won four and drawn one of the last five matches against Chelsea in all competitions. But the Red Devils have also won just one of the last 12 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions, while Chelsea have won 10 and lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea

The Blues will be without the services of their experience duo – John Terry and Frank Lampard. The Chelsea skipper continues to serve his four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, who is the brother of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand. While, Lampard sustained a calf injury against Shakhtar Donetsk in the midweek and has been ruled for ‘ a few weeks’. Marko Marin has been training for the past couple of weeks and is expected to be in the squad for Sunday. There are no other absentees meaning Di Matteo is expected to name the same XI that won 4-2 at Tottenham last weekend.

Manchester United

Manchester United will be without their Japanese playermaker Shinji Kagawa for three to four weeks due to the knee injury he picked up in his side’s comeback win over Braga. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are back training for a week and therefore could make the bench at Stamford Bridge, while United hope Phil Jones will start full training in November. Sir Alex Ferguson has no other fitness concerns, except for the long-term absentee Nemanja Vidic (knee), in his squad and will have to decide what to do with his striker problems after Javier Hernandez’s man-of-the-match performance in the midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 163
Chelsea Wins – 44
Draw – 48
Manchester United Wins – 71

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

05-Feb-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
18-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
08-May-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
12-Apr-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
06-Apr-12 – Champions League – Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Chelsea – LWWWW
The Blues are in superb form this season and are early the favourites to win the title, as they are four points clear at the top of the table winning seven of their eight Premier League matches this season.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Chelsea
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Chelsea
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 4-1 Norwich City
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – FC Norsdjaelland 0-4 Chelsea
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Manchester United – WWWWL
United come into this match on the back of four back-to-back wins in all competitions and are sitting second behind their hosts for Sunday in the Premier League table.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – CFR Cluj 1-2 Manchester United
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Juan Mata (Chelsea)
The little Spaniard has been in great form this season and is surely one of the early contenders for the Player of the Year award. It was thought that the big money captures of Oscar and Eden Hazard might stop him from playing in his number 10 role for the club, but it has not. Instead he has got even better and has already scored three and created five goals in eight league matches so far. The United defence will have to be at their very best and disallow him the space he loves to get into, if they are to get a result on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
The England international is at his very best since his return from the thigh injury he picked up against Fulham at the start of the season. Many people suggested that the arrival of Robin van Persie will see Rooney being frozen out at United, but it has not been so. The duo have flourished as a strike partnership and the Englishman, who has scored three times in his last two visits to Stamford Bridge, has scored twice and assisted four times in the last three league games. There is no doubt the versatile striker will be United’s main man on Sunday and if the Blues can keep him quiet for the whole game then they have a great chance of getting all three points from the game.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech (C); Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres.

John Terry misses the match because of his four-match suspension meaning Gary Cahill, who was benched for the midweek Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk comes back in the side to partner David Luiz in the heart of the defence. Frank Lampard, who picked up a knock in midweek, is expected to make way for Eden Hazard. Ramires will partner Mikel in the midfield, while Hazard will regain his spot in the side alongside Oscar and Juan Mata. Underperforming Fernando Torres is likely to start as the lone striker up front ahead of Daniel Sturridge.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick; Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez.

With Anders Lindegaard still recovering from the thump injury he picked up in training, David De Gea will start in between the sticks for the Red Devils. Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are expected to return to the side after being rested in the midweek. Michael Carrick, who looked very unconventional in defence against Braga, will be moved up the field to play in his natural position on Sunday alongside Antonio Valencia and Paul Scholes in midfield and Wayne Rooney at the top of the diamond. Javier Hernandez, who scored the late equaliser in 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, could be picked ahead of Danny Welbeck to partner Robin van Persie in attack.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Chelsea have a superb home record against United, as they have never lost to the Red Devils in their last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge.
  • 1 – Chelsea have gone into the break behind only once in the eight league matches this season.
  • 2 – David Luiz has scored in both of his appearances for Chelsea against United at Stamford Bridge.
  • 4 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have only been in front at half-time four times in 12 matches this season, and have gone on to win all four.
  • 4 – Javier Hernandez has scored in four of the seven clashes with Chelsea.
  • 5 – Wayne Rooney has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions against Chelsea.
  • 5 – Robin van Persie has scored five times at Stamford Bridge; the best record of any visiting player.
  • 6 – Fernando Torres has scored six goals in 14 appearances for Chelsea this season, and is just one shy of total from last season.
  • 18 – In their last 30 meeting in all competitions, both the sides have got on the scoresheet on 18 occasions.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Clattenburg
Based – Durham
Age – 37
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 24
Red Cards – 2

MATCH ODDS

Chelsea 7/5, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the table and a win on Sunday will see them going seven points ahead of United. The Red Devils, on the other hand, will put their best foot forward to pull Chelsea back. Goals are written all over this game, in the corresponding fixture last season Chelsea squandered a three-goal lead and were pegged back to 3-3. But both the sides have changed considerably since their last league meeting. Robin van Persie, who is the league’s top goal scorer with six goals, is expected to lead United’s onslaught alongside Wayne Rooney. However, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are in top form and given the weaknesses in both the defences, we are in store for a treat.

Predicted Score: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United

Vidic Out For Eight Weeks – Key Fixtures He Will Miss And Possible Replacements

Manchester United have confirmed their captain Nemanja Vidic will miss eight weeks of football following knee surgery. The injury was discovered after the defender was forced to miss his team’s victory over Liverpool.

A statement on the club’s official site read:

“Nemanja Vidic has had a meniscus operation on his right knee and will be out for around eight weeks.

“Sir Alex, as a precautionary measure, rested Vidic at the weekend, after he complained of tightness in his knee, however, further medical investigation revealed the underlying problem.

“The central defender was operated on this week and will be sidelined for about eight weeks.”

This news comes in as a bitter disappointment for Sir Alex Ferguson, who will once again be without his top defender and captain for another two months, after the Serbian missed the final five months of the last season with a ruptured cruciate ligament in the same knee. The Manchester United boss is already without defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, while like always for the past couple of season Rio Ferdinand’s fitness remains a concern.

Key Fixtures Vidic Will Miss

United welcome Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham to Old Trafford next in the Premier League this weekend, followed by a difficult trip to Newcastle. The Serbian is also scheduled to miss games against Chelsea (A) and Arsenal (H), but could make his comeback against the Premier League champions and the noisy neighbours Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the season at the Etihad Stadium.

In the Champions League, the fans can expect the United skipper to sit out against Cluj in their final group game at Old Trafford. While he is certain to miss the away trips to Galatasaray and Cluj, as well as both the games against Braga.

Here is the list of fixtures, he is schedules to miss..

26-09 – League Cup – Newcastle (H)
29-09 – Premier League – Tottenham (H)
02-10 – Champions League – Cluj (A)
07-10 – Premier League – Newcastle (A)
20-10 – Premier League – Stoke (H)
23-10 – Champions League – Braga (H)
28-10 – Premier League – Chelsea (A)
31-10 – League Cup – Fourth Round
03-11 – Premier League – Arsenal (H)
07-11 – Champions League – Braga (A)
10-11 – Premier League – Aston Villa (A)
17-11 – Premier League – Norwich (H)
20-11 – Champions League – Galatasaray (A)
24-11 – Premier League – QPR (H)

Who Will Replace Him?

Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans will have a huge role to play now – like they did in the second half of the last season. Michael Carrick can also play in the centre-back position like he did at the start of the season against Everton and Fulham, but his performances were not up to the mark and didn’t look comfortable at all. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both are out since the start of the season and are expected to return after the international break in October. They both may be available for the home game against Stoke City. Ferguson has plenty of options available in the Under-21s squad – Scott Wootton, Michael Keane, Federic Veseli – but all of them lack the experience of playing in the Premier League and playing them against the big teams would be a huge gamble.

Options remain limited for the United boss and if Ferdinand or Evans were to sustain a long term injury in the near future, the Red Devils will be severely short of replacements in the heart of the defence. With key clashes just around the corner, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping their captain a quick recovery.

John Terry Quits England, But Is The FA To Blame For It?

John Terry has sensationally announced his retirement from intenational football less than 24 hours before the Football Association hearing into the Anton Ferdinand saga is expected to begin.

The Chelsea defender, 31, was cleared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game. But Terry, who won 78 caps, still faces a Football Association disciplinary hearing over the matter on today (Monday). The Chelsea captain said he could not play for England because of the FA’s decision to pursue charges against him and his position with the England national team was now “untenable”.

In a statement, John Terry said:

“I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.

“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy and the team every success for the future.

“I now look forward to playing for Chelsea and challenging for domestic and European honours, and I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support.

“I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps. I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I’ve played with. I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career.”

England face a couple of World Cup qualifiers next month. First they welcome San Marino to Wembley and then, four days later, face Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland in Warsaw.

Is The England FA to Blame for it?

John Terry claiming his position in the England team “untenable” or the lack of the support from the governing body is complete ‘nonsense’. The Chelsea skipper is the author of his own downfall and there is no one else to blame for it.

Whether it was the Wayne Bridge saga, the dispute with Anton Ferdinand and subsequent fallout with Rio Ferdinand or the impression he gave that the England armband belonged to him, Terry had become a poisonous asset during the international week. Keeping aside his performances on the pitch, he brought with himself too much additional baggage whenever he boarded the England bus.

The FA charge he faces this week has become almost incidental in the public’s eyes. Even if Terry’s name is cleared, the storm clouds won’t automatically go away. His unpopularity will remain. He represents much of the arrogance and ego that alienates many people from modern football.

If he was chasing for any sympathy by yesterday’s swipe at the FA, then it’s unlikely to happen. He calling his position in the England team “untenable” isn’t true at all. He was continued to be picked by England managers during his troubled times. First Fabio Capello and then Roy Hodgson. The current England boss backed him strongly during his squad selection for the Euros, a tactic that looks even more doubtful now that Terry has walked away.

Terry’s inclusion in the Euro 2012 squad came at the expense of Rio Ferdinand. Nobody fully believed Hodgson’s reason that the Manchester United defender was omitted “for footballing reasons”. It was all to do with the dressing-room dynamic, with the tension between the pair following Terry’s dispute with Ferdinand’s brother Anton. Hodgson took him to Poland and Ukraine, he behaved but his presence was always an issue.

What Next For England?

For all the off field controversey he caused, his 78 caps with England should be remembered for his never ending commitment on the pitch. He is a proud, patriotic individual and this decision to quit from representing his country will have been a painful one. Along with Steven Gerrard, Terry was England’s best play in Poland and Ukraine.

Terry’s absence will be felt in the dressing-room but the national team will survive without him. His Chelsea team-mate, Gary Cahill has shown he can contribute a lot for both club and country. The former Bolton defender is a European champion with Chelsea, Joleon Lescott is a Premier League winner with Manchester City and Phil Jagielka has imporved a lot in the last couple of seasons at Everton. Rio Ferdinand is in the twilight of his career, but deserves a recall.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both will be back soon from their long term injuries and have the potential to be the next best England centre-back pairing. Steven Caulker is maturing and developing promisingly at Tottenham Hotspur and is worth a long-term audition, along with Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, who surely deserves a England callup in the near future.

Manchester City v Manchester United Preview – The Biggest Manchester Derby In History

Premier League games will not get any bigger than this as the two giants of Manchester go head to head at the Etihad, in a game that will go a long way in deciding the title race.

Manchester United slipped up against Everton at Old Trafford after twice taking the lead and are now just three points ahead of the Citizens, who have a far superior goal difference. A win for Roberto Mancini’s side will see them move to the top of the table, while either a draw or a loss will see the Red Devils take a huge step towards retaining their Premier League crown.

The two fierce rivals have already met twice this season, with the last match between them being in the FA Cup at the Etihad, a match that saw United narrowly beat City by a 3-2 scoreline. However, in the last league match between these two giants, Manchester City thumped United by a 6-1 scoreline, a result that will surely give the Citizens some confidence. One thing is for sure though, whatever the result, a lot of goals could be in the offing and the game promises to be a thriller.

Team News

Manchester City

Mario Balotelli returns for Manchester City after serving his three-match suspension for the red he picked against Arsenal. But it’s very unlikely that he will start the game as Mancini is expected to stick with his inform Argentine front pair of Sergio Aguero and former United player Carlos Tevez. Micah Richards is set to fit for the game after missing last week’s 2-0 win over Wolves with a hamstring problem. Boss Roberto Mancini has a big decision to make in his midfield, with the improved form of Samir Nasri of late or the more defensive solidity of two holding players against their rivals United a key decision.

Manchester United

Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Anders Lindegaard and Nemanja Vidic remain long-term absentees, but they have no new injury worries ahead of the match. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will be hoping to be included in the team at right-back after a not-so-impressive performance by Rafael against Everton and the more defensive-minded stability they can give their team. Sir Alex Ferguson must also decide whether to play Wayne Rooney along with Danny Welbeck up ahead or go with a lone striker in Rooney and play a three-man midfield. Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young will all be vying for starting berths in wide areas.

Key Battles

Rooney v Kompany

Rooney is chasing the Golden Boot but he will not have a tougher opponent than Kompany. The City defender’s red card at the Etihad in January was a major factor in Sir Alex’s team winning the FA Cup tie 3-2.

Aguero v Ferdinand

Ferdinand has responded well to his manager’s assertion that he had to change his style to survive. But he will have his hands full with Aguero, whose 29 goals this season represent an outstanding return for a debut season in English football.

Yaya Toure v Scholes

Different in size and style but each vital to their team winning the midfield battle. City’s decline this season can be traced back to Toure going to the African Cup of Nations in January, while Scholes is yet to lose a league game since coming out of retirement.

Clichy v Valencia

Valencia was injured for City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford and Clichy had an excellent match-up against Nani. Valencia does not have Nani’s skill but his energy will stop Clichy advancing down the wing from left-back.

Head to Head

08 Jan 12 – FA Cup – City 2-3 United
23 Oct 11 – Premier League – United 1-6 City
07 Aug 11 – Community Shield – City 2-3 United
16 Apr 11 – FA Cup – City 1-0 United
12 Feb 11 – Premier League – United 2-1 City

Form

Man City – WWWLD
City’s home form this season has been nothing short of excellent, having won 16 and drawn just once in their 17 games at the Etihad stadium, with only Sunderland having taken points off them. 51 goals scored and only 10 conceded at home is the best in the entire division on both counts, as is their points tally by some distance.

Man Utd – DWLWW
At the same time, United’s away form has been similarly impressive this season with statistics showing that they lead the Premier League in the number of away wins (12 out of 17 games), goals conceded (just 13) and points gained (39), while only City have managed the same number of goals scored (36).

Probable Lineups

Odds

Man City – 11/10, Draw – 5/2, Man Utd – 12/5

Prediction

A mouth-watering title-deciding clash is in prospect at the Etihad as the best home record in the league goes up against the best away record.

Whilst, the league won’t be won mathematically on Monday, but a victory for either side will generate huge psychological win over the other. United do have a slight advantage, a draw will keep them three points ahead of their neighbors with just two games left to play.

Both teams have already won over each other this season and while City have the home advantage they have struggled when they are under pressure, meaning United’s greater experience in these situations may prove crucial.

Manchester City 1-1 Manchester United