Last year when Manchester United’s game away to City was coming up in the calendar, United fans were filled with dread.
It was David Moyes’ first derby as manager and there was little confidence United could come away with a good result. 90 minutes later off the back of a 4-1 humiliation, those fears were justified.
Yet 12 months later, that dread has been replaced by anticipation, albeit nervous anticipation. United aren’t going into the game as favourites but they are going in with a real sense of belief, a belief that they can win.
Despite that, Mark Ogden categorically rules out any hint of hope for United to the point where he considers the result a foregone conclusion.
In his article for The Telegraph, Ogden wrote: “Regardless of the starting XI selected by Van Gaal, the best he can put out will still come up short against Manuel Pellegrini’s champions.”
It’s a statement which is all the more surprising given that City are coming into the derby off the back of consecutive defeats to West Ham and Newcastle United.
The Premier League is unpredictable at the best of times, let alone for Louis van Gaal‘s first derby as United manager away at the Etihad. It’s foolish for Ogden to consider this game as a sure thing because it is far from it.
“Yes, United have goals in them, but who will stop Toure’s buccaneering runs or Silva’s threaded passes?,” Ogden continued.
“Who will shackle Sergio Aguero and which United defender is good enough to match Edin Dzeko in the air?”
Stopping Aguero is certainly going to be difficult as is Silva or Yaya Toure (if they don’t have another off day) but they are not indomitable. Tough, yes, unstoppable, no.
The easiest thing for Van Gaal to do would be to get on the phone to Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew to ask how they both walked away with three points to put City on a two game losing streak coming into the derby on Sunday.
Also, to overlook the problems that the likes of Di Maria, Rooney or Falcao could cause City is doing them a disservice. City’s defence is not watertight, there are gaps that others have already exploited this season.
Sunday is going to be a nervous game for City and United. Both teams are strong in attack but need to improve in defence. City (10) have conceded twice as many goals as Southampton (5) this season while United (13) have been leaking goals for fun.
Sure, City go into the game on Sunday as favourites with the home advantage but to completely write off United’s chances, especially off the back of a morale boosting draw against Chelsea, seems very foolish.
United can win at the Etihad on Sunday. Whether they do is a different matter altogether but the match is far from a foregone conclusion.