with the answer to this question: which is the most underrated rivalry in
Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United (kick-off 13:30)
42 min Barry! Oh, that was a good chance! A chance out of nothing for
City - a quick throw on the right to David Silva, who played it to Balotelli
in the area, who laid it off to Barry about 20 yards out. He had time,
decided to pass it into the net and got it all wrong.
41 min Yaya Toure is bustled off the ball. Yaya Toure. City look
out of this at the moment. Van Persie tries to turn inside Zabaleta and gets
a shot away. It's deflected through to Hart.
39 min Young clattered by Zabaleta on the edge of his own area. How
have we still not seen a booking? The current fad for referees in big
matches is to leave the notebook in the pocket in the early stages. Recall
the last World Cup final for an example of how that turned out.
38 min Nothing comes out of the City corner. After a shaky first few
minutes, Ferdinand has done a really good job in defence.
37 min City win a corner. A goal before half-time would be even more
crucial than usual. More from Paul Hayward, meanwhile.
Twitter: Paul Hayward - Kolo Toure has hyped himself into a frenzy. Blasted a pointless long-range shot into the stands and just took out Van Persie. Mancini livid.
35 min United are playing some very, very good football at the moment.
Valencia with his foot on the ball, almost taunting City with it. He waits
for Rafael to make the decoy run outside him and then dinks it to Van
Persie. Back to Valencia. Back to Van Persie. Who's offside.
34 min Silva with a City free-kick from the right. De Gea catches with
32 min Valencia gets past Clichy again on the right. United are really
hurting City down the flanks. Nastasic has to be at full stretch to clear
his cross before Rooney gets there. Cleverley with the follow-up from 25
yards. It's well over the bar.
31 min The Etihad is in a sort of shivering trauma. They're not quite
able to articulate what they're seeing. City look pretty stunned as well. I
fancy we may see some changes at half-time.
29 min GOAL! Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United (Rooney)
We want six! Rooney again after an incisive United break! The cross comes in
from the right, Rooney steals half a yard on Kolo Toure, and tucks the ball
past Hart from six yards!
27 min Nasri twists and turns and crosses. Headed away to Kolo Toure,
who decides to go for the 30-yard volley? And why not? It's a nice souvenir
for one lucky fan in the back row.
26 min In to the near post, where Carrick can't get the right contact
on the glancing header. If you're gong to play it to the near post, wouldn't
you want someone there who can actually do a glancing header? It comes out
to Van Persie, who tries to shoot from an impossible angle, and sees it
25 min Valencia's managing to find some space too. He wins a corner on
the United right off Clichy. Evans, who's stayed on and looks about as OK as
Jonny Evans ever looks, trots into the penalty area.
23 min Aguero! So nearly brilliant! He practically dribbled through the
entire United defence there - one or two lucky deflections, but audacity
like that deserves the odd sprinkling of grace to it. Having done the hard
bit, he found himself eight yards out, with only De Gea to beat. He tried to
place it, and the goalkeeper could tip it behind for a corner.
22 min The last two or three minutes have been all United. Young again
on the left in space. Van Persie crosses, looking for Rooney. Headed away by
21 min Kolo Toure. Why not Lescott? What is Mancini's big problem with
19 min Meanwhile, there's an injury in the City defence too. Kolo Toure
is preparing to come on for Vincent Kompany. This would be a huge blow for
City. Meanwhile, Young gets space again on the left and tries to square it
for Van Persie. Barry cuts it out.
18 min Henry Winter brings news of an injury in United's defence.
Twitter: Henry Winter - Totally against the run of play, #mufc lead through Rooney after breakaway. btw Smalling warming up as concern over Evans
16 min GOAL! Manchester City 0-1 Manchester United (Rooney)
Out of absolutely nothing! Joe Hart's first touch is to pick the ball out of
his own net after a marvellous piece of deception by Rooney! United broke
with Young, who played the ball inside to Rooney. Rooney glided the ball
across the edge of the penalty area before trickling a low, weak shot back
towards the left corner. It was going so slowly it barely looked a threat,
but Hart was completely wrong footed, and could do nothing to stop the ball
rolling meekly in. That's an astonishing turn of events. United lead.
15 min Aguero! Heavy touch! Put through by Balotelli, and he's
outsprinted Evans, but can't bring the ball under control, else he'd have
13 min Yaya Toure ghosts past Carrick - pretty limp attempt at a
tackle, that - and releases Balotelli on the right. Balotelli tries to
nutmeg Evans, who keeps his legs together and wins the ball. Balotelli tries
to win it back by going to ground and swiping at Evans from behind. He, too,
is fortunate to escape a yellow card.
12 min Aguero takes on two men on the City right and wins a corner. De
Gea comes for the corner, catches, fumbles, and catches again.
11 min Clichy bursts down the left, manages to hook a cross in, and
Balotelli volleys it miles over the bar with De Gea in no-man's land. First
real chance for either side. Possession stats: City 76%-24% United
10 min City are definitely going with the long ball as a tactic in this
early stages. Zabaleta hoists it long for Balotelli. Headed away by Evans.
8 min United have hardly managed to cross the halfway line so far. City
playing the more precise stuff. Yaya lifts it into the area looking for
Aguero. Headed away by Ferdinand. Nasri gathers it. Evra tackles. United are
6 min Balotelli takes the corner. Van Persie heads it away at the near
5 min Kompany lunges in on Valencia, and then Ferdinand slides in
dangerously on Aguero. Some real tackles flying in, and some angry words
being exchanged too. Free-kick for City about 25 yards out. Balotelli takes
it, and De Gea pushes it behind at his near post. Corner.
3 min Rooney with two fouls in quick succession! First a little nip on
Silva, followed by a very late lunge on Yaya Toure. Martin Atkinson takes
Rooney to one side and tells him not to be silly, or he really will get a
talking to. Either of those fouls could have seen yellow on their own.
2 min Gorkhn Singh flagrantly defies the pun amnesty with this effort:
The Maverick Mancini's love-hate relationship with Mr unreliable
Super-Mario Balotelli will be truly tested today. Either Balotelli will
unleash all the shackles and unleash the glimpses of brilliance that were on
show the last time these two teams met, although if the more experienced
members do not protect Balotelli quickly enough, City's title hopes could go
up in smoke quicker than a firework in Balotelli's bathroom. P.S. Most
under-rated derby is WBA v Wolves.
If that was parody, it was very good. If not, leave and never return.
1 min Aguero's down after a tackle from Evans. He's stayed down. Now
he's got up. No free-kick.
13.30 Enough of this nonsense. Let's have some football.
13.25 Sky's Geoff Shreeves conducts a bizarre interview with Cruise and
Duvall in the tunnel. Cruise reveals he's been following English football
since the 1980s. Duvall says his favourite player was Wee Jimmy Johnstone,
before asking whether there will be penalties afterwards if it's a draw. I
know I started this live blog with a pack of lies, but all that genuinely
And look, I didn't even make the joke about Geoff Shreeves breaking the bad
news about Tom Cruise's divorce. You would have laughed, but it would have
been Pavlovian. I want more.
13.21 "What's the fifth thing in the credo for today?" asks Alison
Ramage. Aha. Ahahaha. Ahahahahaha.
13.20 Paul Hayward is also at the Etihad this afternoon:
Twitter: Paul Hayward - David de Gea is expected to get a run of games in goal for Man Utd. Goalkeeping jersey his to lose after the defensive debacle at Reading.
13.15 For some reason probably related to the generation of cash money,
Tom Cruise is at the Etihad Stadium today. This photograph comes courtesy of Chris
Bailey, who works for the Manchester City website. Can we just get all
the Tom Cruise puns out of the way before we start? This is, I assure you,
the definitive list.
'It's Mission Impossible now for United'
'Jonny Evans had his Eyes Wide Shut at that corner'
'Still raining at the Etihad, but no Days of Thunder just yet, or a Vanilla
'City just need A Few Good Men to stand up and be counted'
'Back pass to De Gea, and that's Risky Business'
'Kagawa still injured. He's been The Lost Samurai since joining United.'
'People will say the title race is over, but that's very much a Minority
'Mancini will be asking the owners to "show him the money" in
Robert Duvall is here too. Feel free to make puns about him.
12.55 Henry Winter is in place at the Etihad, and he begins by reading
Twitter: Henry Winter - Mancini in good neighbourly mood, welcoming #mufc 'a great team' & Ferguson 'the most successful manager in the history of British football'
12.50 Lots will be made of Tevez getting 'dropped', or possibly even
'snubbed', by Roberto Mancini. Balotelli's inclusion is something of a
surprise, not to say a gamble, but he's got pedigree in big games, not least
the 6-1 last season. Besides, when you've got four strikers as good as
Manchester City do, it's no more a 'snub' to Tevez than ordering beef
carpaccio in a restaurant constitutes a 'snub' to the prawn cocktail.
12.40 Team news. Balotelli starts. Tevez doesn't. No Vidic for
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic,
Clichy; Yaya Toure, Barry; Silva, Aguero, Nasri; Balotelli.
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Maicon, Kolo Toure, Garcia, Tevez, Dzeko.
Manchester United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra;
Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young; Rooney; Van Persie.
Subs: Johnstone, Jones, Smalling, Giggs, Scholes, Hernandez, Welbeck.
12.30 It's a glorious sunny afternoon in Manchester, the perfect
setting for the fiercest rivalry in English football, and certainly the
biggest match of the season so far.
Can you spot the little white lie in that sentence?
In fact, there are three of them. That whole sentence is a seething nest of
lies, a poisonous cocktail of mendacity. The biggest match of the season so
far, strictly speaking, was probably El Clasico back in October. The
fiercest rivalry in English football is probably a toss-up between West Ham
v Millwall and West Brom v Wolves (if you've never been to one, you're going
to have to trust me on this). And it's currently overcast in Manchester with
a bit of drizzle. I mean, it's Manchester.
It's quite easy to get caught up in the furious meta-narrative of matches such
as these, the hyper-significance of it all, an approach best described as
the 'Five-Things-We-Learned' school. (Note, by the way, that things can only
be learned in multiples of five.) Instead, can we all agree on the following
as a sort of credo?
1) The Premier League title will not be decided today.
2) Both Manchester City and Manchester United will remain, regardless
of the result today, very good football teams.
3) This game on its own will tell us little or nothing about any of the
following things: the state of the modern game; when Alex Ferguson is going
to retire; whether England will win the next World Cup; or whether football
has, in fact, been ripped fully-formed out of the motherly arms of the
working-class and dropped into the lap of the bourgeoisie.
4) None of the above actually makes this match any less worthy of our
time and attention. It is, after all, a football match, and we quite like
With the terms of the encounter thus framed, let us begin.
Our own big two have had their say on United and City:
Whatever happens when the neighbours and rivals storm into each other this
afternoon, United will be back again and again. It’s in their nature. When
it comes to silverware, Ferguson’s men are hunters and gatherers, writes
The end of that 44-year wait earned Mancini a new five-year contract,
almost by default. But the consequence of City’s tame Champions League
surrender is that he is now left needing to retain the Premier League title
to be able to say the club are still progressing under his leadership, says
And a reminder, as if you needed it, of the two matches between these sides
Here's a little preview.
Considering that last season's fixture at the Etihad Stadium was the 'biggest
ever Manchester derby,' and City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford last October was
arguably the most significant for half a century, Sunday's first meeting of
the Premier League's top two has plenty to live up to.
City are finding it difficult to score, while United cannot keep the ball out
of their own, but as the old cliché often reminds us, form goes out of the
window on these occasions.
So expect fireworks. Insert Balotelli joke.
Betting: Home 5-4, Away, 15-8 Draw 5-2.
Stats of the game: As it stands, United lead the Premier League with 36
points from 15 games, three more than City – and 10 more than third-placed
Chelsea in what is turning into a two-horse race.
At this stage last season it was the same top four – Spurs are fourth as they
were then – but the only difference was that, after 15 games in 2001, City
were top with 38 points, two more than United.
Interestingly, after 15 games last season, City had scored 49 goals and
conceded 15. Now they have just 28 but have conceded 11. United, by
contrast, had 35 goals then with 14 conceded.
Twelve months on and United have 37 goals – but they have also let in 21.
United have the upper hand at City in the Premier League with eight wins and
two draws from 15 visits.
And the last six clashes have seen no more than one goal in the game, with
United winning 1-0 three times, City winning by the same score twice and one
Mark Ogden’s prediction: Manchester City 1 Manchester United 1
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