Manchester City Vs Manchester United Preview

Manchester United visit Eastlands tonight, for the first leg of the much anticipated Carling Cup Semi Final (20:00 Hrs), which was postponed a fortnight ago due to adverse weather conditions.

Manchester City come into this one on the back of a 2-0 away defeat at the hands of Everton on Saturday, meaning Roberto Manicini’s first defeat as City Boss. The flamboyant Italian still has selection problems and many are keen to see whether Robinho is involved after his humiliating substitution at Goodison Park.

Roque Santa Cruz, who will be out for a month with a calf injury, was taken off in the first half against the Toffees, with the British record signing Robinho coming onto replace him, after 51 minutes however, Mancini had seen enough of another lacklustre away performance, which saw him substituted for Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Despite this defeat, all of the pre-match noise has been coming from City, most notably from former United man Tevez, stating that he hopes to gain his “revenge” on his former club. Vincent Kompany, who has put in some convincingly average performances of late, has also chipped in stating that the Carling Cup tie will provide a “Fresh Test” for the Eastlands outfit, whilst former Hamburg teammate Nigel De Jong has been talking to the media again stating that he “cannot wait for the Derby”.

Selection wise, new signing Vieira is set to miss out again, however may be pushed down the pecking order with the reported arrival of Mathieu Flamini, on loan from AC Milan until the end of the season. Incidentally, it has developed that promising youngster Vladimir Weiss, who scored against Arsenal, could be on his way out of the club in the next few days, potentially to Hull, again on loan.

Accompanying Santa Cruz and Vieira on the sidelines tonight will be Wayne Bridge and Joleon Lescott, who are both suffering with knee injuries, Stephen Ireland, with a niggling back injury whilst Michael Johnson takes up his familiar place in the stands with another long term injury. Kolo Toure is still on International duty with the Ivory Coast and Adebayor is likely to be on compassionate leave for a number of weeks, following the atrocities in Angola.

On the other side of Manchester, Berbatov will miss out with a knee injury which flared up against Burnley and Ryan Giggs will be unlikely to stop City winning their first trophy in 34 years, as he is also likely to miss out. This means Diouf could start, following his first league goal at the weekend and Fletcher may deputise at the back. The ongoing makeshift defence will cause concerns for Sir Alex Ferguson as Rio Ferdinand is still some way off from first team action and Nemanja Vidic, who is suffering with discomfort in his knee, thought to be a trapped nerve, will miss out again. This leaves United short defensively as John O’Shea and Owen Hargreaves are also long term absentees. Ben Foster, who is rumoured to be leaving United this month in search of first team action, is also out, with Edwin Van Der Sar likely to start again between the posts, following his return on Saturday, with a somewhat fortunate clean sheet against The Clarets.

The holders will be hoping to stop City’s almost inevitable rise to the top of English football, however despite Sir Alex stating that he “sees the threat” from the blue half of Manchester, he undoubtedly has the experience. Since City’s last trophy, the League Cup in 1976, Manchester United have gone on to win 25 major honours, whilst City last reached a Semi-Final back in 1981. Also on United’s side are previous results, the bookies will give good odds on a 1-0 victory tonight, with the last three derbies at the City of Manchester Stadium finishing this way, two of which in Sir Alex’s favour.

With City seemingly unable to play a game un-televised at the moment (including Saturday’s defeat at Everton, 5 consecutive matches will be show in all competitions), Mancini will be eager to impress, particularly with this being one of the most anticipated League Cup ties in recent history. Adding extra spice to this could be the Red Devils dominance in recent years and City currently being pretenders to the throne, however with United being knocked out of the FA Cup, Owens injury time winner at Old Trafford and the superlative form of Carlos Tevez, if tonight’s game is anywhere near as good as the build up, this could be a great advert for the rise of the Carling Cup.

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