Match Preview: Battle of Manchester – Part 4: Clash of the attacking elites
After exploring the midfield options both managers have ahead of the derby, let us move on to the people who make it count on the score-sheet. Manchester clubs, without any doubt, boast the most exemplary range of strikers and it will be a feast for onlookers on Sunday when the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium. Let us take stock of this lavish range of strikers – all of them exuding a peculiar set of attributes to put the ball in the back of the net.
City’s forward line is going through a tad weird phase with none of Mancini’s four prime options doing enough to earn a regular place in the starting lineup. Compared to last season, the goal returns have been considerably low, with Aguero down from 11 to 5, Dzeko from 10 to 6 and Balotelli from 7 to 1. It may also be down to the poor form and fitness of their sole play-maker, David Silva, but then there’s also the lack of intensity from the strikers that has kept the Italian manager worried ahead of this big game. Edin Dzeko has been the pick of these players and has been getting some crucial points for his side this season – but most of them have come from the bench. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to deliver the goods whenever he has started for the side which does leave a lot to think for the manager in choosing the right pair for the game.
It’s been some time, to be precise, since the Treble season, that we finally witness a strike force that is incredibly clinical and immensely versatile. Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernanadez, the old warhorse Wayne Rooney and the newest superstar in the form of another Premier League talisman Robin van Persie – options which made Sir Alex confidently claim a possible 100-goal-season. It’s on the back of this lethal attack that United have made it to the top even after conceding 21 goals so far and if the trend continues, we may well see them at the top of the table even in the month of May. Again, this Sunday, Sir Alex will put all his hope on them to fire and he won’t mind if another comeback is on offer, as long as they win in the end.
The stats in the graphic support the claims of the City side missing their revered sheen in the attacking zone this season while also highlighting the fact that United have been brilliant with their chance conversions. It suggests that United may need only a couple of breaks to turn the game on its head – something Mancini should be wary ahead of the game. Also, the sensational poaching runs from the Dutchman van Persie could make City pay for their inability to lure the striker on the other side of Manchester.
Only time will tell which set of strikers will celebrate at the end of the game, but if any one of them is looking for a night to make a telling impact, then it’s time to rise up to the occasion.
To set the tone of this fascinating battle in the Eastlands, here’s a small clip which will keep you wanting for more!