NB: Video on this article has been removed in accordance to international license restrictions.
By Greg Robertson
Hello and welcome to Old Trafford where we have a top-of-table clash in the English Premier League and football at its finest as Manchester United hosts Manchester City at Old Trafford in the derby.
United are 15 points clear of City, so it’s much about pride – one team wanting to show they deserve to be well clear and the other to show they don’t deserve to be so far behind. The title, already conceded.
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LIVE COMMENTARY… United 1 – 2 City
CITY WIN. ALL VIDEO UP.
90+3 MINS: Rafael now into the book for the foul on Aguero when the break was on. Garcia on for Tevez.
90+2 MINS: Zabaleta booked and now United have a long shot - a free kick from distance. Young coming off after that challenge. Headed away for a corner. Comes to nothing but United are still attacking.
89 MINS: How much belief do United have? Silva's down and the ball been put out... both teams ow squabbling because City didn't put it out. Pushing, shoving... hand bags flying. FOUR ADDED MINUTES.
84 MINS: Hart with a comfortable catch from a van Persie header. Tevez then booked for a rash challenge on Jones. Rooney off for United and Hernandez on
82 MINS: Giggs nearly sends van Persie sliding towards goal but RPV snatches at it and it's well wide.
78 MINS: GOAL AGUERO! He does it all on his own running 10 yards on the angle and on the dribble.What a goal. Magical run and then he drills it into the roof of the net. Wow. City leads 2-1. Welbeck off for United, Valencia on.
77 MINS: Silva finds Tours inside the box with acres of space, but he takes too much time and Rafael makes the block. Right, this one's about to light up for the last 15.
75 MINS: Seven Premier League wins in a row for Manchester United is under threat should the score stay this way, though they'd settle for a draw I'm sure. Young strikes from a long way out and Hart down to his right.
72 MINS: A ball's fired into the back post toward Tevez who tries to head across the face of the goal, Jones' stooping for United at the back to head away any danger.
69 MINS: United's Young with a cross from deep and Welbeck's free on the penalty spot, turns his header and it scoots off the Old Trafford turf but De Gea has it covered. Nasri coming off for City and Aguero is on.
65 MINS: Milner's having a whale of a game as he dribbles then dinks a through ball forward that Zabaleta can do little but put it out for a corner. De Gea catches it cleanly, untroubled.
63 MINS: Tevez with a strike as City try and get ahead again. Silva, though, in the way and it clips his legs from an offside position. Aguero warming up.
58 MINS: Toure gives away his second free kick in as many minutes as he eases Rafael off the ball - clumsy. Van Persie with almost a short corner with a little bit of angle... GOAL UNITED! Phil Jones has headed it home from very close range! It was driven in by RVP and Jones gets the better of Kompany. That will actually go down as an OWN GOAL as Jones's header went onto the back of Kompany and into the net.
56 MINS: That's livened things up for sure. United now suddenly much more desperate in defence and attack. Toure penalised and United will have the chance to swing in a free kick. They go short instead, lose possession and lose the chance.
52 MINS: GOAL CITY! Giggs gives the ball away and Barry is away down the left De Gea is unsighted, laid off by Nasri and the Milner strike touches the inside of Jones's left thigh and barrels into the corner of the net. City leads 1-0!
50 MINS: Rooney swings it wide to Rafael but he shows too much of it to Clichy. Rafael then makes up for it, winning a corner, last off Clichy. Ohhh Giggs corner and Jones going in there but the ref protects Hart... absolutely no foul there. One aspect of football that needs to change... he was under pressure, hart stood up and provided some good goal keeping and gets the free kick as well despite no offence on him.
48 MINS: Welbeck runs into Barry and Barry just stands his ground just inside the penalty area. No protest at the penalty not being given.
46 MINS: City putting the first pressure on of the second spell and it's bobbling about as United invite City pressure on them. It breaks down when a little nudge from Tevez on Jones draws the attention of the ref.
HALFTIME and it's 0-0
45 MINS: OFF THE CROSSBAR from United. Carrick and van Persie and then it's on to Rafael who has a toe-poke from a tight angle onto the crossbar. ONE MINUTE ADDED.
44 MINS: Kompany with a yellow card fro sliding in in Young late, results in a van Persie volley that he'd rather we didn't talk about. Milner goes up for a header - after a long run up - and leads with his arms, colliding with Evra who is now worming around on the ground. This match has been bereft on real chances on goal, second half?
41 MINS: Tevez with a blind overhead on the look for Milner. Then there's some lovely football from United, Rooney acting as a wall again while others combine around him.
38 MINS: Rooney at pace with RVP ahead... ends up with Young and a nice block from Nastasic forces a corner. Rooney's delivery is too deep. You can feel the United fans' frustration levels rising.
36 MINS: Possession is fairly split with United having 46% though you feel as though City has had the better in terms of quality of possession.
35 MINS: Carrick and Tevez tussling, Tevez being done for gas cuts across him and Carrick can do nothing but knock him over. Free kick City that's flung in by Milner but dealt with by the United defence.
33 MINS: Long, searching ball from Ferdinand nearly finds Rooney... he's called offside when it looked promising.
32 MINS: Ouch. Rooney slides in with thunder in his head and his double-footed effort takes out the right ankle of Milner. That's frustration from Rooney, objecting to the the yellow card with disgust. He's not been able to get in the game as yet.
31 MINS: Robin van Persie whips in a free kick at pace, a little flick and Zabaleta is rushed to get it away fro a corner. Rooney's corner is met with a thumping header by Kompany, out to Young who blasts high, wide and very unhandsome.
30 MINS: Yellow card for Silva after he and Ferdinand climb and stretch for a Zabaleta cross. Silva's done for a deliberate handball while there were also some nervous eyes at Old Trafford watching the little Ferdinand nudge in the back inside the penalty area.
27 MINS: Toure, Silva and Milner combine and the shot lips toward De Gear who swallows it up. Milner never had his balance.
26 MINS: Ferdinand gets tight to Tevez and he is turned easily, leads to a Silva shot that's skewed wide but City are starting to put some things together.
25 MINS: Narsi with a double touch on the turn but ones reads it well and scoops the ball from his toes. Kompany, at the other end (as it starts to swing again) is commanding with a header away.
22 MINS: Milner with a great looping ball right to the back with Nasri rising but only able to get a glancing header onto it. Ohhh Kompany lifts it into Silva who then slices it toward the six yard box and only the sliding, stretching leg of Phil Jones is a saving grace. He's hobbling after that. Tevez could have shot there instead of trying to find Tevez. Switch of end, and Giggs loops a header well over the crossbar. Never looked likely.
19 MINS: A strong period for City, the last five minutes. Starting to camp inside the United half... United right now seraching for killer long balls to work their way out. Welbeck, though, is up against Clichy who's very quick so that's an intense battle if United continue to use it as an out.
16 MINS: Zabaleta outpaces Evra down the right and delivers far post only for Tevez to karate kick the ball in desperation out for a goal kick. Zabaleta showed great strength on the ball after some initial pace to push the Frenchman away.
14 MINS: City with a free kick in a dangerous position about ten yards from the penalty area after a foul by United but the delivery from Silva does nothing but find De Gea. Van Persie gets the ball to feet and Milner takes a chunk of his leg with the ball, leg first, and the whistle goes for United to clear. A fabulous raking ball from Young finds Welbeck and from it United set up an attack, streaming forward... Carrick, Rooney - nice touch - but it's too sharp for Giggs. Lovely wall pass and Giggs needed to be on the move to catch up with it.
10 MINS: United win their first corner and it's in by Giggs and out by Nastasic. Slowly starting to settle from the frenetic pace of the opening seven or eight minutes.
9 MINS: The shackles have been cast aside as these one continues to swing from end-to-end. Rooney plays it in to RVP. o[pens his body up and lets the ball cross to his left foot and he shoots, pulling it just wide but no danger to Joe Hart in the City sticks.
6 MINS: Clichy runs away from Welbeck and has a belt, and the width of that belt is wide. Tevez gives him a stern glare... he wanted it. Young then finds van Persie in the middle, and he's bustled off it when it was looking likely as a chest, turn, strike.
4 MINS: City with the first corner of the came and Ferdinand heads strong... Welbeck is on his bike here... what a fast break, Clichy the saviour as Welbeck chose to ignore and open Rooney. Other end now, what an open match, and Milner cracks one, away by De Gea. United now surging away. THIS IS A FIRECRACKER!.
1 MINS: Plenty of sub-plots aside now in terms of talking and it's time for putting them into action as a stern Man City side Roberto Mancini watches United start the stronger of the two... then suddenly the ball flings to the other end and there's half a chance for Tevez if not for Rafael getting it away.
Evra and Kompany meet the officials, flip for who's buying the beer after the match (yeah, right) and we're underway...
Here they come... and what a ROAR! Both teams out on the pitch. Hand shakes all-round break the divide.
Both teams going through their final warm ups as we get set for this one... packed house - surprise that (sic).
Half an hour until this epic off (7am New Zealand time). And while we wait, Rooney and van Persie both starting. Your teams are in... here are the starting line-ups...
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra, Young, Carrick, Giggs, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Barry, Yaya Toure, Milner, Silva, Nasri, Tevez.
Kick off is not far away so in the meantime watch United have a win over Sunderland.
Manchester United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Buttner, Nani, Valencia, Powell, Carrick, Anderson, Cleverley, Giggs, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck.
Man City (from): Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Nastasic, K Toure, Kolarov, Clichy, Milner, Nasri, Sinclair, Y Toure, Barry, Garcia, Rodwell, Silva, Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko.
Turn the clock back a year and we have a completely different story.
This game up, last year, was the beginning to the triumphant end for Manchester City. The derby match had City edge past Manchester United to go to the top of the English Premier League as the side marched to it’s first English football title in half a century.
If they were to do the same today and topple United, however, the only thing that City will achieve aside from a bit of pride is to delay the inevitable and avoid handing the title over to their arch rivals for that little bit longer.
Right now, United are 15 points clear of their nearest rival, City, and their manager Roberto Mancini has already conceded the title.
“Last year had so much more to it,” said City captain Vincent Kompany, who headed in the winning goal 12 months ago. “It is a completely different situation, today and last year.
“It is about coming out on top in that game. I am looking forward to it and I think everyone else at Manchester City is, too.”
It’s been a poor last month for United, given that four weeks ago their was talk of them winning the trouble – since dumped out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League. But now after losses to Real Madrid and Chelsea it’s the League title that holds the only chance of silverware this season.
And it would be fair to say that for United to lose the title this season it would require a meltdown of epic proportions, in fact, ever.
“The way we've approached things is the correct way and that's to win the next game. Hopefully, it takes us to winning the league,” Ferguson said. “It'll be a big game for City. They'll want to come and derail us for a spell. We're at home and our consistency is there for all to see. I expect us to perform really well.”
Ferguson’s been in the mood of offering advice. He’s already given some to one of his strikers, Robin van Persie, who has been struggling in the goal-scoring department of late – “don’t tap the ball, batter it”.
After a superb start to his first season at United, Van Persie has gone nine games without a goal to allow Liverpool forward Luis Suarez to become the Premier League's current top scorer.
"You have to get through that (dry) period and not lose your faith and belief in yourself," Ferguson said. "My dad always used to say, `Make sure you batter the ball when you're in there, don't tap it or try and side-foot the ball in the net, batter it!'
"That's what I always tell strikers - when you get in the position, make sure you hit it."
Ferguson believes the goals will come for the Dutchman, and he’s likely hoping that they’ll start coming in this match.
And if not, he’s also welcoming his other striker back, Wayne Rooney.
Rooney’s set to return for United for the derby at Old Trafford following international duty then a groin strain while Ferguson has also been boosted by Rafael coming back. Toss a coin over the fitness of Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans.
“It's a big game for Manchester City in that they will want to come and derail us for a spell and I can understand their motivation, we probably would have the same,” says Ferguson.
While City can be sure the only players they can’t pick are Micah Richards and Maicon who are both unavailable with knee injuries.
Mancini has a point to prove: “We want to show, maybe, that we don't deserve to stay 15 points behind.”