Writers United: The Noisy Neighbours Are Coming Home (ft. Harshal Patel)

What are your thoughts going into Sunday’s game, which is probably the biggest game of the season so far?

Pep Guardiola has turned this City side into a winning machine. They’ve been playing some gorgeous football, and have lately even developed the knack of scoring late winners. We’ve done well enough recently, aided by Paul Pogba’s return, and his absence on Sunday is gonna be a hammer blow to our hopes. City’s already considerable lead means that we absolutely cannot lose the match; an 11-point lead would be impossible to make up. I don’t think a draw is good enough either, we simply have to go to for the win.

How do you think we can stop Man City?

Well, to be honest I don’t think we can stop them from scoring; they’re in superb form, have some brilliant players and Pep’s tactics are extremely difficult to defend against. That being said, the likes of Huddersfield, West Ham and Southampton all came close to getting something from their games against our neighbours, and there was one thing in common across all those sides. They were compact, denying City any space for the likes of Silva and de Bruyne to pick a pass, and while our natural instincts at home may be to attack, that is the template to follow. Jose is still the master of setting up teams to win one-off games, as the 2-0 defeats of Chelsea in the league and Ajax in the Europa League final showed last season. We were devastating on the counter against Arsenal; marrying that with our defensive approach in the Liverpool game earlier this season is our best bet of winning this one.

What’s your favourite Old Trafford derby moment?

While Michael Owen’s winner in that madcap 4-3 game during the 2009-10 season certainly sent me bonkers, it isn’t my favourite moment of Old Trafford derbies. That honour has to go to Wayne Rooney and his spectacular bicycle kick to win the game 2-1 the following season, even if he did shin it. City had started to become noisier in recent months, they’d equalized through a lucky goal, and after everything that had happened with Rooney over the previous season, that was the perfect way towards redeeming himself. Still gives me goosebumps whenever I watch it.

Score prediction?

I think City will score, but so will United. 2-1 to United, with Aguero, Lukaku and Lingard getting the goals.