BPL Midweek: Derby Day In Manchester, Arsenal Look To Rebound, More

IMAGE, MCFC.CO.UK

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Manchester United had a stranglehold on the Manchester area for years following a string of successful campaigns.

In recent years, Manchester City is turning the tide.

The blue half of the city is surely enjoying United’s fall from grace and hope to turn the screws once more in the midweek fixture. United manager David Moyes had a poor introduction to the derby in a 4-1 loss in September, but will hope for better fortune this time around.

In the absence of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney will once again have to bear the burden of carrying the Red Devils’ attack. Rooney did it at the weekend with devastating effect, scoring twice against West Ham. Juan Mata was still with Chelsea when the clubs met in September and will need to be a creative hub in midfield to help keep United ticking.

Moyes started Shinji Kagawa and may opt to do the same against City. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez  hasn’t featured on too many occasions for the Red Devils, but could very well play some part in the match as he did at the weekend.

Man City will look to close the gap on Chelsea with one of their games in hand. A win at Old Trafford would put them adrift of the table-topping Blues by only three points.

City breezed past Fulham last weekend and will look to continue that attacking outburst against United. Liverpool recently had success pulling the United defense apart with a 3-0 victory. In the more recent meeting, City has been able to light up the score sheet. With a 4-1 drubbing earlier in the season and still vivid memories of a 6-1 victory back in 2011.

Yaya Toure should play a large part if City is to have success at Old Trafford. The rugged midfielder scored a hat-trick at the weekend and has had a knack for goals from distance over the last few weeks. Any time Toure receives the ball anywhere near shooting distance, United will have to close him down early.

Here are highlights from their last meeting:

What Else To Look For

1. Arsenal Need To Rebound After Heavy Defeat Against Chelsea – After such a shocking defeat, the best tonic for Arsenal is to get back out on the field. The Gunners will have had a quick break to lick their wounds and will need to re-focus for an important match against Swansea City.

For the Gunners, the upcoming match needs to set the tone for a positive run before facing Wigan in the FA Cup semis. With the chances of contending for a league title slipping away, the FA Cup is a trophy Arsenal must get their hands on this season.

The area Arsenal must improve on is in the midfield. Too may times against the Blues, Arsenal were caught in possession in the middle of the park, which on several occasions led directly to Chelsea goals.

With the red card shown to Kieran Gibbs transferred to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and then rescinded, both players should take part in this one.

Although the match is at the Emirates, the Gunners may want to have a more pragmatic approach to start the match and a midfield partnership of Mikel Arteta and Matheiu Flamini shielding the backline wouldn’t be a bad idea.

For the visitors, they will need points to help push them away from the relegation zone as the Swans currently sit 15th place on the table. Swansea was outplayed by Everton at the weekend and can ill-afford to continue to drop points. Michu, who has recently come back from injury, has had a history of scoring goals against Arsenal in his time in England. A combination of Michu and Wilfried Bony would give the Arsenal backline a handful. It will be interesting to see if  Swansea manager Garry Monk feels the two players can start together or if he deems them to similar.

2. Sunderland Defense In Liverpool Danger– Although scoring goals — and lots of them — was in vogue at the weekend in the Premier League, Liverpool have been setting the trend on high scoring outputs all season long. Hosting struggling Sunderland at Anfield could be another potential offensive outburst.

The Reds have already scored 82 goals this season, lead by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. That combination has been devastating and should give the Sunderland back four fits throughout the match. Raheem Sterling will also provide pace in attack, while Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard will keep the Reds ticking over.

Sunderland need points anyway they can get them and it won’t be a surprise if they firmly park the bus away from the Stadium of Light. If so, it could be another frustrating day for Jozy Altidore, who has consistently been starved for service this season.

The Black Cats will need to take advantage of any set-pieces as Liverpool is sure to have the lion’s share of the possession.

With a win, Liverpool can close the gap on Chelsea to a point. Sunderland, if they are able to conjure a victory, would move out of the relegation zone. However, it could very well be more misery for the Black Cats during the midweek fixture.

Here is the current Prem table: