Premier League Derbies and the Clash of the Red and Blue Sides of Manchester

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By Ajibade Morakinyo

Looking at the Premier League fixtures for match day 16 of 38, one would agree that it’s time for the ‘more’ powerful elephant to trample the other in a ‘deadly’ contest. This time, it is not the grass that would suffer but the ‘weaker’ opponent. No doubt, the time is here for history to be recorded, repeated, or changed.

The unanswered question is; ‘who will set the record?’ This weekend, West Ham will host Chelsea; Tottenham will welcome Stoke City; Burnley FC to welcome Watford; Newcastle will welcome Leicester City; Swansea City to welcome West Brom; Crystal Palace to welcome Bournemouth; Huddersfield to welcome Brighton; Southampton will welcome Arsenal; and Liverpool will host Everton.

Manchester City will go into 175th Manchester derby looking to record a fifth win in seven Premier League visits to Old Trafford. According to records, this is the biggest game so far in the season; especially in the era when Jose Mousinho’s men look to rein in the power of the league leaders – Man-City, who are currently eight points ahead of their local rivals in the title race.

Although, Man-U has won all 11 home matches this season and could complement the record on Sunday by going 41 games unbeaten at Old Trafford, Man-City are undefeated inthe Premier League this season and have a 100 percent record on the road. Clearly, this is the survival of the fittest.

It is worth noting however, that City suffered their first defeat of the season on Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. This, many football analysts agreed was from the seven changes the City manager made to his team; resting many of his big players, including Kevin De Bruyne, but Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero (a substitute) all played.

It remains to be seen on Sunday if the long flight home will damage the 41-game unbeaten record at Old Trafford for United.

Another nightmare for Man-U is the absence of Paul Pogba – who was suspended following his red card against Arsenal at the Emirates last Saturday. Mourinho has already confirmed Nemanja Matic will definitely play, so who will partner him in central midfield? If Marouane Fellaini is fit to play, then he’ll offer a combative option, while Ander Herrera is another who could be suited to a high-energy role around the park.

In terms of other absentees, the manager has admitted Eric Bailly and Michael Carrick do not have a chance of returning, but also revealed Phil Jones and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could both feature. Here, one would doubt if United can claim this victory against a stronger and gallant ‘elephant’ in a tough tussle for supremacy like this. Man-City though do have what it takes to break the recurring record of their next door neigbours – Man-United.

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