The shift in power in the City of Manchester since Sheikh Mansour arrived has been stark, to say the least.
United have gone from footballing heavyweights to pushovers, while City have forgotten their past as Premier League part-timers to become big-hitters at the top of the table. Manchester’s red side look like they are closing the gap on their now superior rivals after a lavish summer of spending, but City are most certainly favourites going into this Sunday’s derby.
City have won the last 3 clashes between the sides, including a sweeping 3-0 victory at Old Trafford in March of this year, but United, down in 8th in the table after finishing 7th last season, will take hope from City’s glaring inconsistencies this season.
Manuel Pellegrini‘s elaborately assembled squad have misfired of late, punctuating a recent run of 3 consecutive wins with draws in the Champions League, and they have followed up those results with a loss at West Ham last weekend before crashing out of the Capital One Cup at home to Newcastle in the week.
They have won just 6 out of 15 competitive games this season, losing the Community Shield to Arsenal, off the pace at the top of the Premier League, out of the League Cup and looking like they could fail to make it out of their Champions League group.
A reliance on Sergio Agüero, who has scored 11 of their 22 league and European goals this season, is unacceptable for a team of their riches and a squad of their depth. Agüero tore Tottenham apart recently and when he is not shackled City can be simply devastating, but without him against Newcastle they lacked cutting edge and against a more defensively organised West Ham they could only find a goal via the genius of David Silva.
Silva himself arguably is not producing the level of return that a player of his quality should. He has just 2 assists in 12 Premier and Champions League appearances this season, both of which came in the win at a leaky Hull side. While Agüero can make do without Silva’s service and fashion chances of his own, City’s other forwards need more from their main creator.