Manchester Derby: Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Bother Watching the Biggest Game of the Year

The biggest live audience for any single match since the Premier League began came on April 30, 2012. Over four million people tuned in to watch the Manchester derby that saw Roberto Mancini's City edge ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson's United in the Premier League title race.

Despite the rivalry between the neighbors, no match before had held such high stake, and none have done so in the five years since. But the two new men in the dugouts will, inevitably, change that. A wounded Manchester United is in the process of recovery under the care of Jose Mourinho, while his old adversary Pep Guardiola is transforming the way Manchester City plays and thinks.

In the months and years ahead, these two titanic teams have the ingredients of a Premier League classic where titles will be decided. But not yet. As the pair prepare to face off for the first time this season on Sunday (December 10) at Old Trafford, here's five reasons why you should find a better use of your time:

The Training Session

Last Saturday, Mourinho's team traveled back up north rightly pleased with themselves after taking three points from Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. United had taken its chances; it was clinical, scoring three goals with four shots on target.

The only number Mourinho will have cared about was the amount of points his team had won, but Arsenal dominated in possession. United had the ball for just 25 percent of the game, the lowest possession figure the club has recorded since data was first collected in the 2003-04 season. The record was broken just six months after it had been set, which came in April's draw with Guardiola's Manchester City.

It may take little over six days to be broken again, for City, under Guardiola, dominate the ball. Against West Ham, on Sunday, Guardiola's team had 77 percent of the ball. The week before, Southampton was granted just 26 percent of the ball, while City's visit to Huddersfield last month saw David Wagner's team see just 20 percent.

United may be far superior to West Ham, Southampton and Huddersfield, but the trend remains. Against an attack-minded Liverpool in September, City had two-thirds of possession. If Mourinho's famous bus comes out, a new record could be broken.

Of Course, City Will Win Anyway...

Guardiola never expected the run to last. His team had bulldozed its way to 20 consecutive victories before losing to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday night. The City manager knew this was coming, and he certainly wouldn't have minded the timing. City was the only team at Europe's top table to have a perfect record at the group stage, which saw him field his second-string of players in the Ukraine.

Now, it's back to the important business. Sergio Aguero will be back in the line-up, along with Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker—possibly even David Sila, too, if Mourinho's suspicions are correct.

With City back to full strength, even a Mourinho defense will struggle to prevent Guardiola's team taking all three points—and should an 11-point gap open up as well, victory may even end the title race before Christmas.

Guardiola and Mourinho
Pep Guardiola, left, and Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, October 26, 2016. Guardiola and Mourinho go head-to-head again on Sunday in the Manchester derby. OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty

The Absent Stars

With all the money spent in Manchester over the past couple of years, neither team is set to be at full strength on Sunday. Some of the main protagonists will be watching from the stands. United will be without Paul Pogba, who is suspended after being sent off against Arsenal, while City will be without David Silva due to injury. It is like 'The Departed' without DiCaprio and Wahlberg.

Pogba's impact on United this season has been shown through his absence, after an injury kept him sidelined for two months. On the blue side of town, Silva has only been overshadowed by the emergence of the Belgian De Bruyne, but his loss from the starting line-up will hurt Guardiola's team.

Mourinho Moaning

With two emotionally-charged managers on the touchline, tensions could easily boil over. Should City take all three points then Mourinho will struggle to contain himself. "Fair dos, lads. Pep's boys were much better than us today," is unlikely to be the reaction from the Portuguese coach. A contentious decision will be fuel for Mourinho's post-match moaning if events at Old Trafford don't go his way. The pressure is already on referee Michael Oliver.

Sassuolo vs. Crotone

And why would you want to miss this humdinger of a match? Just half-an-hour after the kick-off at Old Trafford, managerless Crotone travel to Sassuolo as both teams fight to stay out of the bottom three in the Italian Serie A.

Sassuolo and Crotone are one and two points clear of the relegation zone, respectively, but the visitor has endured four straight defeats ahead of its trip to Modena. You, obviously, wouldn't want to miss this.