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By ESPN Staff

Some Classic derby action!

Wherever you're from, chances are that you will have experienced the thrill of a local derby.

Madrid sees Real and Atletico fans collide, Argentina unleashes World War III when Boca Juniors meet River Plate and the 'Old Firm' of Glasgow's Celtic v Rangers in Scotland always attracts a wide variety of problems, as well as excitement.

It is hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes the adrenalin rush that little bit better when you score against a local rival. The natural human desire to be better than your neighbour? A primal survival instinct? Or maybe a historical conflict that has never been forgotten? Whatever it is, we wouldn't change it for the world.

Football clubs around the globe thrive on such competition. The stakes are raised and there is little chance of getting tickets for a derby game an hour before kick-off, wherever you are.

England is blessed with more than most. London has many rivalries on all points of the compass, with the most notable residing in north with Arsenal and Tottenham.

Likewise, Liverpool and Everton battle on Merseyside every year for bragging rights, and among the other big cities there's the likes of Sheffield United and Wednesday, Birmingham and Aston Villa and Newcastle and Sunderland.

For a rivalry in which form often goes out the window and there's usually always a big talking point, few can match the Manchester derby. In recent memory we've had 5-1 and 4-1 to City and 5-0 and 4-2 to United.

We've had Gary Neville's woe in the last-ever fixture between the clubs at Maine Road in 2002, Shaun Goater's last-minute Old Trafford equalizer in the same season, Giggsy's sidewinder as United closed on the title in 1996 and a Ruud Van Nistelrooy double as a ten-man United put City out of the Cup in February 2004.

Next weekend sees the two sides meet up again, for the 148th time and with both teams in a run of decent form, it promises to be as explosive as ever.

City got their first away win against Aston Villa last Saturday, which should boost Stuart Pearce's confidence ahead of their trip to Old Trafford. They have a combative midfield, which is always useful in such encounters.

In Barton, City have a willing midfield enforcer and tackler, although he is often let down by his distribution and temperament.

Something he could learn from a player he is certain to be trailing for much of the game, Paul Scholes, 66 caps for England, and recognized by many who have played with him as one of the most complete midfielders of his generation. Barton has a long way to go before he reaches Scholes' class, although not through a lack of trying.

Another key battle to raise its head is at right-back, where Gary Neville will be compared to the young pretender to his England place, Micah Richards. Richards has been in superb form, and at only 18, is seen as one of the best young players in the Premiership.

With City looking to avoid a relegation battle this season, it is likely to be a closely contested match, with passions running high. For City fans, a trip to Old Trafford is always one of the highlights of the season, and they would love to be the team that derails United's charge for the Premiership title.

In the run-up to the match, ESPN Classic are having a Manchester Derby week, showing classic fixtures from the seventies through to the early nineties.

The pick of the week is the legendary 1993-1994 match in which United staged a second-half comeback to deny the City fans who had been crowing at their two-goal, half-time lead, courtesy of two Niall Quinn strikes.

Eric Cantona dominated proceedings after the break with two goals, taken with typical poise before Roy Keane, then a recent Old Trafford arrival, won the match with a near-post finish.

There's also a victory from the days when United were known as 'Doc's Red Army'. Having narrowly missed out on the title the season before, United beat City 3-1 at Maine Road, playing the flashing brand of football still remembered fondly by Reds fans of a certain age.

While United's dominance in the fixture is reflected in the majority of the matches shown this week, it's not all doom and gloom for City fans. Over the years, United have won 57, with City totalling 39 and 49 draws.

So Man City's 2-0 home win over Dave Sexton's soldiers in 1979/80's First Division is featured, revenge for another game we're also showing - a 3-0 win for United at the home of their rivals.

But we also feature the return game - where United gain revenge with a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Micky Thomas blockbuster.

There's two other games from the 1980s too. 1983 was a terrible year for Manchester City. Not only were they relegated; United also won the FA Cup. Not only that, United won this March game at Maine Road to send the Blues sliding towards the old Division 2.

Better tidings for City in 1986 though; they were back in the First Division. And a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford further hindered the progress of United, whose thrilling start to the season was coming to a juddering halt.

ESPN Classic - The Dead Good Sports Channel - brings you heated action from some of the finest Manchester Derbies.

Every night from Monday 4th December at 10.00pm, and from midday on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th on SKY channel 442.

Register your details on at the website to receive the complete line-up of matches.

  • Any comments? Email Jon Carter