Ahead of the big derby on Sunday, we chat to Manchester United fan and Read Man United editor James Browning.
It’s the big one at Old Trafford this sunday. Do you think it suits you playing at home for the first time? City have hosted a lot of the first derbies in recent years.
I definitely think home advantage is a big factor in terms of whether it comes first or second. We usually play poorly at the Etihad and that game will then be in the minds of the players when they play again at Old Trafford – the psychological impact is probably bigger than we think!
There are currently two points between the two sides as the two clubs are first and third in the league respectively. Will it a be a close, cagey affair given that no side really wants to lose?
You’re right in saying that neither side will want to lose but I don’t see it being too cagey. United will play with the usual steady passing build-up so City’s attacks will come on the counter frequently. If we can thwart a counter attack the game suddenly becomes very open – the same goes for the goals. If one team gets and early goal it’ll open right up!
As much as a few City fans will try and dispute it, Anthony Martial has been incredible for you in terms of his productivity up top. Could he cause City a few problems?
Martial will surely be the biggest threat – we’ve seen him leave players sat on the floor watching him advance on goal and he’ll be looking to get at the entire back four and test them with his pace and composure.
You go into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow. What was the pattern of the game and does it stand you in good stead for the derby?
CSKA were very much on the front foot in the first half. We were unlucky to concede given that David de Gea saved the Russian side’s original penalty only to see Doumbia slot the rebound away. After the break we were very much the better team, which we expected from the outset – but a point away in chilly Moscow is brilliant so yes, it’ll have given the team some confidence ahead of Sunday.
Kevin De Bruyne scored again for us on Wednesday and has already established himself as a firm fans favourite at City. Is he the man you fear this sunday, especially with Aguero and Silva out?
Absolutely. As a man who enjoys watching Wolfsburg I do know quite a bit about him and all I can say is that you’ve got yourselves an absolute gem. He’ll carry the torch for for as long as you can keep him away from Madrid and Barcelona. It’ll be nervous viewing seeing him anywhere near Phil Jones on Sunday!
In the most recent derby it was United who came out on top in a 4-2 win. Fellaini in particular caused City plenty of problems that game. Is there any chance of him starting on Sunday?
He was absolutely exceptional last time out and I remember him turning Yaya Toure on a sixpence. I was in the South Stand at Old Trafford for that game and a few people were moaning around me at his inclusion but he definitely put the pessimists in their place. I don’t think he’ll start as van Gaal is likely to go with one of Schweinsteiger or Carrick but I can certainly see him being involved off the bench.
For more on my thoughts on Fellaini, here’s a feature I wrote a couple of months ago: http://readmanutd.com/2015/08/17/feature-fellaini-…
What are your favourite derby memories? Neville feeding Goater? The 6-1?
Haha nice try! Scholesy’s late header is up there, as is Rafael threatening to test Tevez’s chin – but the standout for me has to be Rooney’s goal (you know the one!). I’m probably our captain’s biggest advocate these days and he’ll always be my favourite player so I can’t look past that sublime effort!
Van Gaal has tweaked things a fair bit in recent weeks, how will he set his side out for the game?
The defence is the trickiest to predict – Smalling will of course be one of the four but the other three positions are there for the taking. Valencia may be in with a shout for the right-back spot whilst the second central role will be decided by the manager’s positioning of Daley Blind. Other players guaranteed a start are Schneiderlin (or at least I hope so!), Mata, Rooney and Martial – with the other positions all very highly contested. It’ll be a 4-2-3-1, though.
Finally can we get a prediction from you?
There are four reasons I’m confident about this one: de Gea is in exceptional form, Anthony Martial is, well, Anthony Martial… City are missing Silva and Aguero and the game’s at Old Trafford. I’m going with 3-1 United (Martial x2, Rooney – Sterling)
Thanks to James for taking part in our Q&A. Follow him on twitter here: