Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Manchester United seek put-down for City upstarts

SoccerNews in English Premier League 30 Nov 2008

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Manchester United will be looking for revenge as well as the chance to get their Premier League title push back on track when they take on newly-rich neighbours Manchester City on Sunday.

United are currently eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who face Arsenal in Sunday's later kick-off, and a Liverpool side that is not in action until they face West Ham on Monday.

If the prospect of a crucial three points was not enough motivation for Sir Alex Ferguson's team, they also have a score to settle with their crosstown rivals from last season.

In last season's game at the City of Manchester stadium, United dominated but lost to a wonder-strike by Geovanni and City inflicted further pain by claiming a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

The fact that the Abu Dhabi United Group's takeover has made City arguably the richest club in the world means that the Eastlands club are expected to challenge for the top four in years to come.

And defender Patrice Evra, who had a nightmare debut in a 3-1 defeat at City in January 2006, acknowledges that there will be a special edge to the clash with Mark Hughes's side.

The Frenchman said: “It should be a massive game for both sides. It's a very important game for us and for the fans as well, and for the people working for this club.

“We need to show Man City they aren't better than us. Last year we lost six points, but we won the league but for the fans it's a good present if you win against City.”

United are yet to gather real momentum this season and have managed just two wins in their past six matches in all competitions.

A poor away record of just two victories in seven away games in the Premier League is a major reason why Ferguson's men find themselves off the pace.

But the Scot, who must decide whether to recall Dimitar Berbatov after a hamstring problem, is adamant that, having travelled to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United already this season, United will feel the benefit in the second half of the campaign.

He said: “We have had a lot of hard games. Chelsea, Arsenal and now Man City away from home, straight after a European match is not easy.

“Hopefully the second half (of the season) will promise much better for us because at the moment, we are playing catch-up.”

England midfielder Michael Carrick is also unconcerned about the Premier League champions' current problems in front of goal.

United have been stifled in their last two matches – goalless draws at Aston Villa and Villarreal – but Carrick believes it is only a matter of time before the goals start flooding in.

Carrick said: “I'm sure we will start scoring pretty quickly again. We've had spells since I've been here where we've had two or three games like we've had.

“We believe what we're doing is the right way and I'm sure we'll become better than ever as the season progresses.”

Hughes is likely to recall Robinho, Elano and Pablo Zabaleta after they missed the 2-0 UEFA Cup win in Schalke on Thursday.

Having beaten Arsenal 3-0 in their last Premier League game before recording the win in Germany, midfielder Vincent Kompany believes City are in great shape as they head into the derby.

The Belgian has switched from central defence to Hughes since arriving at City from German side Hamburg in August and Kompany feels Hughes' team are beginning to show the control and discipline that was lacking earlier in the campaign.

“The two wins were very important,” he said. “In the last two games we did not have as much possession as we usually have – but we got rewarded because we were organised, concentrated and played like a very experienced team.”

Hughes also believes that this week has been an opportunity for City, who have lacked consistency this season, to show what they are capable of.

He said: “Confidence-wise we are in great shape. People looked at the week that we had ahead of us with Arsenal, Schalke and Manchester United, and obviously people felt it might be beyond us.

“But I know the quality I have in my squad.”

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