The thoughts of View From A Blue on the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford will feature on BBC Radio 5Live this Sunday as part of the station’s build up to the game.
Here we go. The defence of the silverware we won so unforgettably in May and it couldn’t start with a more pulsating fixture. A third round tie with our local rivals is sure to be full of nerves, tension, anticipation, excitement and hopefully elation come the final whistle. The Blues will start the game as Premier League leaders, FA Cup holders and favourites, though we all know, however vulnerable they have looked, how foolish it would be to completely write off Manchester United.
This game provides a distraction from domestic action and that will be welcomed by our visitors. They’ve been defeated by both Blackburn and Newcastle in their past couple of matches, looking extremely suspect defensively in the process, but they will no doubt relish the chance to avenge the 6-1 mauling we inflicted at Old Trafford.
With regards to team selection, for the first time this season Roberto Mancini is devoid of the services of a number of players. The Touré brothers have departed for the African Cup of Nations, whilst Gareth Barry is suspended after being sent off against Liverpool on Tuesday. In addition, Mario Balotelli is highly doubtful with an ankle knock, whilst Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko both have question marks over them, as they struggle with illness and injury respectively.
Those absences will hand opportunities to Joleon Lescott in defence and Nigel De Jong is sure to come into the side to occupy one of the midfield roles, possibly alongside James Milner. Adam Johnson could be another one to take advantage of the injuries, as could Aleks Kolarov who might be deployed further forward on the left than normal.
Here is the side Mancini could select:
Our visitors are also suffering from a number of injuries and combined with their startling lack of form, come into this game low on confidence and momentum. That said, any team featuring the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Antonio Valencia are more than capable of causing us problems, so although I believe we can head into this game in a positive frame of mind, we have to beware of a United backlash.
Referee: Chris Foy – Has officiated one City game this season, our 3-1 victory over Newcastle in which Foy correctly awarded two penalties. I’m slightly surprised a game of this magnitude hasn’t been given to Howard Webb, Andre Marriner or Mike Dean, but Foy is an experienced referee and will need to be on top of his game.
Prediction: MAN CITY 2 – 1 Manchester United – It will most definitely be closer than the 6-1 and taking into account City’s depleted attacking options, I think it will be tighter than many imagine. Goals to be scored by Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Wayne Rooney.