If you can't get excited for the Manchester Derby between Manchester United and Manchester City, you either aren't a fan of the beautiful game, you have an irrational dislike of all things Manchester or you are somehow getting Internet signal from the rock you're living under.
This game is not only a huge tilt, it's also being contested between two of the Premier League's most entertaining clubs.
United is an offensive juggernaut, leads the league with 37 goals and boasts the formidable one-two punch of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. City is the defending champion, has given up a league-low 11 goals and always seems to have some new issue per week.
As they say across the pond, this one should be a real cracker. Let's take a closer look at the Manchester Derby.
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
When: Sunday, December 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer; Fox Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
Mark Payne of ESPN accurately sums up the key points in this game—at least from Manchester United's side—and he does so in a paragraph. Brevity is the soul of block quotes:
In the meantime, the Manchester derby, bragging rights, and the top of the table are up for grabs. [Sir Alex Ferguson] will see a draw at the Etihad as a good result and will likely pack the midfield to stifle City's front line. The United faithful would rather see their side go for it. Manchester United have only been any good this season when attacking. For them, it isn't the best form of defence, it is the only form of defence. The fans will be hoping the manager sees it the same way this Sunday.
Most Important Player to Watch: Yaya Toure, Manchester City
In a game that could feature Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Silva (if he plays) and Samir Nasri, I'm going with Yaya Toure as the most important player to watch?
United isn't strong in the central midfield, and while Toure hasn't reached the heights of last season, he is capable of being an absolute force as a box-to-box midfielder in this game. If there is one player who can own the middle of the pitch, keep Rooney honest and help City control possession, it's Toure.
He may not be the sexy selection, but in my opinion, few players will have more of a say in this game's outcome than Toure.
Key Matchup: United Back Line vs. City Forwards
Remember when Mark Payne noted that United's only form of defense was its offense this year?
He wasn't lying.
The problem is, United can dominate possession and simply outscore most opponents. Against City, that's not going to be the case. At some point, United's defense will have to make a stand.
Given recent performances, that's a scary proposition. United's defense has been mediocre all season, and allowing three goals against Reading this weekend was the worst performance for the unit since it allowed five goals on October 31.
Of course, United beat Reading 4-3, because that's what the Red Devils do. But if you think they'll get away with that sort of performance against City, you've got another thing coming.
City has won just four of its last 11 games, losing two and tying five. Take away two meaningless losses in Champions League play after United had already advanced to the group stage, and the Red Devils have won six of their last seven games.
I'm taking the hot hand: United will survive an exciting tilt, 2-1.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets love the derbies.
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