Compliments of the season to you, and while we’ve been enjoying the festivities, the City players have been preparing for a game of significance and size in the Premier League. A visit from the reigning champions was always going to be an attractive draw whenever it happened, but to fall on Boxing Day meant it would guarantee maximum interest.
Can City win it? After all, we’ve lost just once at home in the Premier League and have been unbeaten in four of the last five games. Doing over Manchester United represents quite a task, but currently they’re not in the same fettle as Liverpool and City made defeating the current leaders look almost easy at the start of this month.
Steve Bruce is up against a club that made him rich, famous, successful and decorated, and it still means a lot to him. But as our very ambitious and practical manager, he will be looking forward to sparring with David Moyes, a boss still finding his feet after stepping into a role vacated by a colossus whom our manager still reveres. And although Manchester United are in a bit of form now, they have key players missing and won’t view this occasion as anything other than tough going.
Bruce won’t change the side and has little need to. It will be four games in a row with the same XI for City, especially as Robbie Brady still isn’t ready after his groin trouble. There’s probably little cause to change the bench too. It’ll be a big day for James Chester, facing for the first time the club that nurtured him as a teenager but eventually felt he was better off elsewhere.
Manchester United have no Robin van Persie nor Michael Carrick, which is something of a boon, while Danny Welbeck is a doubt with a knee injury.
This will be only the seventh post-war league meeting between the two sides and Manchester United have won five of them. The bookies will probably expect a sixth tomorrow, with odds of 4/7 on a Manchester United win. City are 5/1 and the draw is priced at 3/1. Feels like a proper Christmas sporting occasion is upon us this year, doesn’t it? C’mon City, show the world who you really are…