Derby day and it has to be said that I leaning towards United as the victors. No, I'm not a secret red and no I haven't turned in my City supporter membership. Styles make fights is a saying in boxing, but it is equally true in Football. City, on paper, do not match up well with United. Of course I'd love to be proven wrong.
The City team that we have seen the past couple of games is City's best. Whether it is a 4-4-2 or as I believe really a 4-2-3-1 with de Jong and Barry as the anchor and Tevez coming back to play the Elano role, the fact remains that the foursome of Adebayor, Bellamy, Johnson and Tevez are the in form City players.
Unfortunately United play a 4-5-1 and look to control the midfield. The City formation against Burnley and Birmingham would I believe be over run in midfield by United's extra player. Which leaves Mancini with a tactical dilemma. If he keeps faith with the team and formation that has played so well City will be at a disadvantage. Doesn't mean they will lose but I can see United in control.
Instead I think that the diamond formation, particularly the way the club played against Bolton for the first 20 minutes, would look to give City midfield superiority while Bridge, if fit, and Zabaleta would provide the support outlets for the midfield. In such a scenario Adam Johnson would play the AMC role at the top of diamond while Bellamy would sit on the bench. Yet Bellamy's speed terrorizes the United Right Full Back, regardless of who plays.
This is the challenge and quite simply is the biggest tactical test that has faced Mancini since he became the manager.
If de Jong, Vieira and Barry all start then Mancini has gone for control of midfield. If he sticks with the winning formula and Bellamy starts then I would be concerned that United will exploit whomever plays at Left Back.
Either way the second goal is crucial.
I'm not a pessimist. I try to look at games and teams on their respective merits. You can make the argument that in a combined City and United team that City would have more players than United such is the quality that now calls Eastlands home. However one thing that United do well is boss the midfield and in Darren Fletcher United have the player I consider most improved in the Premier League this season. City can dream of the infamous 5-1 or even the more recent 4-1 dominated by SWP, but I'll be surprised if either team wins by more than one goal.
United 2-1 is what I believe will be the result. For once I'd very much like to be completely wrong.