What to Look for in Manchester City vs. Manchester United

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 6, 2012

What to Look for in Manchester City vs. Manchester United

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    The big Manchester derby is nearly upon us.

    Sir Alex Ferguson versus Roberto Mancini, red versus blue, City versus United.

    The league's top two clubs lock horns at the Etihad Stadium in a titanic clash on Sunday Dec. 9.

    It doesn't matter how you view it, just make sure you watch this game as it's the must-see contest this weekend in the English Premier League.

    Here's why.

The Coaching Duel

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    Sir Alex Ferguson versus Roberto Mancini is always an interesting one.

    At the end of last season, in the game that pretty much won Manchester City the English Premier League title, City's red-hot form forced Fergie into a rare tactical change.

    He deployed Park Ji-Sung to man-mark Yaya Toure in an attempt to nullify the Ivorian's influence, but it didn't work. Wayne Rooney's obscure positional play was also a failed experiment.

    When SAF changes his formation to account for the opposition, it's his way of signalling respect.

The Rivalry

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    The Manchester derby is among the most fiercely contested in world football.

    It's always a fascinating watch and will remain free of any edgy title implications for now considering how early it is in the season.

    The rivalries have jumped up a notch or two over the past few years since Sheikh Mansour's Manchester City takeover—the Citizens now have a team capable of matching, if not bettering, the Red Devils.

World-Class Duels

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    Not only do the teams carry ingrained hatred toward each other, but they also happen to carry world-class stars on their rosters too.

    This isn't like watching Aston Villa versus Birmingham City, which, for all its importance to the Second City, generally lacks the quality required for a neutral to bare 90 minutes. It's two footballing behemoths slugging it out.

    Robin van Persie versus Vincent Kompany, the wide-open space down either flank, Joe Hart versus Wayne Rooney. This match has all the ingredients to become a classic.

Level Pegging

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    When these two teams met last season, Manchester City won both league fixtures with relative ease.

    The first was a 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford, the second a tight 1-0 win to draw the Citizens level on points with just a few games to go in the title race.

    You'd be forgiven for believing City were clearly the better side last year, but this time around things look a little more even.

    Despite some claims that dropping out of Europe will do Roberto Mancini's side a world of good in the long run, its confidence will be vulnerable right now. Robin van Persie is a one-off phenomenon, and Sir Alex Ferguson will believe he has the tools to win this game on enemy turf.

Bragging Rights

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    Bragging rights are everything.

    Pick out the most memorable game you attended, or even watched from home on the television, and you can bet it's probably a derby win.

    If you smash your rivals, your weekend is complete. The match might carry extra zest due to the Roberto Mancini versus Sir Alex Ferguson duel or the calibre of players on the field, but it ultimately boils down you blues versus reds.

    Life becomes very uncomfortable in the office the next day after a humiliating loss, while a victory sees you genuinely look forward to Monday morning.