- Sun 09 Dec 2012, 9:31AM
- Posted by David Clayton
The 163rd Manchester derby arguably has a higher profile than ever before with the rewards even greater – but who will emerge as the hero?
The main thread in the Sunday Press seems to be around a wounded United desperate to end City’s long unbeaten run at home and the Premier League, but the Blues will be well aware and prepared for today’s encounter which could have a pivotal effect on this year’s title race.
Jamie Jackson in The Observer writes: “Sir Alex Ferguson will trust in an experienced Manchester United side spearheaded by Robin van Persie as he attempts to end Manchester City's two-year unbeaten league run at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday afternoon's 163rd derby.
“United are three points ahead of City, who last lost at home on 20 December 2010 when Everton beat Roberto Mancini's team 2-1. ‘I've got a good squad, I'll maybe go for experience and try to work around that,’ Ferguson said. ‘It's been well pointed out City don't lose games at home. Two years, it's a fantastic record, so hopefully we can find the right solution as to how we operate the game.’”
Hopefully, that won’t happen!
Matt Ryan in the Daily Mail focuses on City’s own blueprint for three points with Azzurri pin-up boy Mario Balotelli perhaps the right man to ignite the Blues’ shot-shy strikers.
“Sources close to the Manchester City manager indicated that he will start with Balotelli up front, partnered by Sergio Aguero, and leave the experience of Carlos Tevez and the more predictable physical presence of Edin Dzeko on the bench.
“The source said: ‘Mancini is going for the pairing he believes will cause most damage to United if they are in form.’”
Makes sense – if it is true, but you have to wonder when ‘sources’ are quoted!
Lastly, a snippet of transfer speculation that may raise on or two eyebrows in the Sunday Express where John Richardson reports: “Roberto Mancini is planning a surprise move for Chelsea’s England star Ashley Cole.
“Cole is set to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer in the summer after contract negotiations between him and the club stalled.
“The 31-year-old’s current deal ends in the summer and, although PSG are favourites to offer Cole a fresh challenge, the move is dependent on Carlo Ancelotti staying as boss of the French side – and that is in the balance. With the rich Qatar-backed club unhappy with the progress under Ancelotti.”
These more sensational stories to appear in the days running up to the transfer window!