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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Much more than bragging rights at stake

Manchester derby

By Daniel Alston.

Not in recent times has a Manchester derby mattered as much as Saturday’s clash at Eastlands. A city divided red and blue; these games always determine which side will have the bragging rights, until the next meeting at least.

Yet in 2010, with Manchester City rich in form and cash and Manchester United’s stronghold on the Premiership under threat once again, it’s much more than banter and pride on the line.

For City, there’s the ever increasing possibility of finishing 4th, nicking that elusive Champion’s League spot from the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool. Should they do that, not only will they enjoy playing in Europe’s elite competition, but it will increase their pull in the transfer market considerably. The big names could very well come if the Blues do the business.

If they are to do so however, then chances are they’ll need to get a result against their fiercest rivals.

Manchester United currently lie in 2nd, and despite manager Sir Alex Ferguson all but conceding the title to Chelsea, they’ll be out for victory just in case the Londoners slip up at the final hurdle.

The last league derby was memorable for a multitude of reasons. Ex-Red Mark Hughes brought his new legion of billionaire-funded stars to Old Trafford, including a Carlos Tevez out to prove Ferguson wrong for not buying him after his loan spell.

The 7-goal thriller swung back and forth, and a 90th minute lapse of concentration from Rio Ferdinand allowed Craig Bellamy to race away and net what looked to be a priceless equaliser. But then up popped Manchester United newboy Michael Owen for the winner, with everyone in blue questioning how, given that the 4 minutes of added time were well up.

And then came those fantastic Carling Cup semi-finals.

So what to expect in the return fixture? Well, goals are perhaps a given. Especially with City having scored 14 goals in their last 3 games. Tevez in particular will be looking to add to his tally against his old club, and will spearhead a rampant attack with Emanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Adam Johnson.

United will be hoping that 34-goal man Wayne Rooney will be fit enough to play after his ankle knock. In his absence, the Red Devils notched just once in their vital games against Chelsea and Blackburn.

It’s sure to be a feisty affair too, with cards red and yellow always likely to be brandished in such a passionate and fan-fuelled derby.

Elsewhere on the team news front, Owen Hargreaves could make a surprise return to the United squad, albeit with a place on the bench. Could the England midfielder finally make his first appearance in 20 months?

City too welcome back players, with Wayne Bridge, Steven Ireland and Patrick Vieira all recovering from injury, and Pablo Zabaleta free from suspension.

An already hot lunchtime kick-off in the expected warmth; this fixture really could go some way in making or breaking each club’s season.

Will City come out on top and then go on to finish 4th? Or will United complete a league double over them and take Chelsea to the wire? Or will it be a 0-0 bore? Leave your thoughts below…

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