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Manchester City v Manchester United Preview: Giants Collide In A Magical FA Cup Tie

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Manchester United will be aiming to wipe away the painful memory that was Manchester City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford this season by knocking Roberto Mancini’s side out of the FA Cup on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium in a huge third round clash.

Going into the game it’s hard to look past City as the favourites. After all they are top of the Premier League, have a great record at home and after brushing Liverpool aside so easily in midweek will be incredibly tough to beat.

Mancini for once will not have the luxury of being able to field his strongest line-up this weekend. He was unable to win his battle with the Ivory Coast’s football federation to have brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure available for the game.

Both players have had to leave to link up with their nation ahead of this month’s African Cup of Nations tournament with Gareth Barry and Mario Balotelli also missing the game due to suspension and injury problems respectively.

The match represents the best opportunity for Sir Alex Ferguson to prove – despite United only being 3 points behind City in the table – that his side are still the team to beat in the country despite losing their last two league games.

So what can we expect from tomorrow’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch?

Rio Ferdinand v Sergio Aguero

City’s record signing Aguero has taken to English football like a duck to water. He’s quick, good on the ball, a lethal finisher inside and outside the area and is a player who has troubled defences left, right and centre this season.

Rio Ferdinand will need to be at his best to keep the Argentine quiet and after being run ragged by Newcastle’s Demba Ba in midweek will have to silence the doubters again and use all his experience to hold United’s back-line together.

Michael Carrick v James Milner

Last season it would be fair to say that James Milner played a supporting act in City’s performances last season. This season the England midfielder has stepped up and now can be seen playing a lead role in City’s success in the heart of their midfield.

That’s something that fans doubted he could achieve after a frustrating season last year and it shall be interesting to see how he copes with a rejuvenated Michael Carrick who has never been one to back down from a challenge throughout his career.

Wayne Rooney v Vincent Kompany

There’s no doubt that Vincent Kompany is in the form of his life at the moment. After being spoken of as a huge talent in his early days at Anderlecht he has more than backed up those claims and developed into a world-class defender.

Kompany has dealt with Wayne Rooney well in the past but will know from last season’s encounter at Old Trafford that the England forward even when off-form can still come up with a moment of magic to win a game. This battle’s one too close to call.

In terms of a prediction for the game, as I stated earlier on in a on in a predictions article, I believe that United will leave the Etihad still in the FA Cup with the game being drawn 1-1. That will set up a replay back at Old Trafford in a fortnight’s time.

This tie will be one that either side can afford to lose. United will know that a win could very well get their season back on track with City knowing that should they win it will give them even more momentum and confidence going into the title run-in.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87