You have to wonder whether the players had one eye on this weekend's fixtures whilst playing Villareal. It certainly seemed like the lads were playing with one eye anyway with the number of stray passes throughout the game, even from David Silva. They certainly didn't make it easy for themselves to put it mildly.
The way the game went may just be what the team needed though for a number of reasons. One being that coming from behind to win a game in the dying seconds gives the team a boost in confidence, a feel good factor that can have a profound effect in the short term at least. The second is that because they were given a tough game they are more likely to be more focused for the next fixture. Look at the results against Everton and Liverpool at the back end of last season to understand what I'm talking about.
With that in mind, I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone that it's the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season on Sunday. I'm also pretty sure that none of the players need to be told how difficult the game is going to be, or what it means for the club and the fans, but the result against Villareal can only encourage and focus the team even more in the lead up to this game.
Is it the biggest derby in recent years? I don't think so, I believe the FA cup semi-final holds that as that actually had a direct impact on the chances of silverware. Despite this the media are likely to bill it as the all time most important greatest ever once in a life time clash of old vs new money due to the fact that that City and United occupy 1st and 2nd spot in the league. This game, although important is not going to be a title decider, but as I mentioned earlier the momentum a win in a fixture like this could give either team may make the difference when the points are counted come the end of the season.
This is a derby at the end of the day though and neither team will ever want to be on the losing side of one of these games. No derby is meaningless, they just vary in the degrees of importance. If the Community Shield was a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (due to the fact you did get a little piece of silverware despite it being a friendly), this one would be a 3.5 in degrees of importance over the course of the season. But however much the match counts it is always important to the club and fans to win a derby.
So who starts? Everyone will have their own thoughts on who should get the nod, we've got a great squad to choose from, and not everyone will be happy with Mancini's choice on the day. There are 7 who I think Mancini will definitely pick; Hart, Kompany, Clichy, Richards, Y. Toure, Silva and Aguero. The rest will depend on who's fit as much as who Bobby thinks will do the job on the day.
Will Yaya's rather poor defensive mid display on Tuesday night mean he plays further up field (like he did with better effect last season including the semi-final and a portion of Tuesday night) leaving the holding roles open for De Jong, Barry and Milner to fight it out? Or will he stay in that position like he has done in the Premier League (and performed pretty well) and leave only one place left in the centre? Either way, Mancini likes the big man and he isn't likely to be dropped.
You'll notice Lescott isn't in the 'certain to start list', not because I don't think he doesn't deserve it, but Mancini could decide to field Kolo who is more rested. However the partnership between Lescott and Kompany is a very good one and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to break that up against a side like United.
It may sound a little odd, but the team from midfield upwards really does depend on where Yaya ends up playing. Wherever that may be, another quality player will be left out of the starting lineup. If he plays further forward then You are likely to only see one of either Balotelli, Dzeko and Aguero, and it would most likely be Aguero in that situation.
If he plays further back then you looking at a more free flowing attacking line up with room for 2 of the 3 forwards available. Aguero would likely play just off the main striker with Silva and Nasri either side.
But who would then get the privilege of leading the line? At the start of the season I would have said Dzeko without much thought, but since the Spurs game his form has bombed. This of course doesn't make him a bad player, we've seen exactly what he's capable of. The mistake may have been taking him out of the starting lineup against Wigan as this appears to have set his confidence back to square one. Dzeko of all the players in the squad seems to run on confidence more than anyone, and he doesn't look like he has any right now but a start in a big occasion like a derby could be the spark he needs.
Balotelli on the other hand constantly oozes confidence, in fact he has a major surplus of it. If only it was as simple as sharing it around, no one in the squad would ever be short of it. To add to that, he's tapped into a fantastic vein of form, 4 goals in 4 appearances plus a man of the match performance in his last game. The current form of Mario and Edin couldn't be more different.
Decisions decisions. I suppose it beats having the option of Corradi or Samaras eh?
What would your starting 11 be?