Manchester United defender Chris Smalling relishing 'biggest derby'
Friday 21 October 2011
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is relishing the build-up to what he believes is "the biggest derby" in football.
United host City at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday in a top-of-the-table clash, with City leading their rivals by two points
Last week, Sir Alex Ferguson stated the United-Liverpool clash is the greatest rivalry in the game, but Smalling, who joined the Red Devils from Fulham last year, disagreed with his manager.
The 21-year-old grew up supporting Arsenal with the north London derby the biggest clash in his sporting calendar, but after starting on the bench in last season's Manchester derby at Eastlands he understands the magnitude of the fixture.
"It is one game I want to win more than any other," Smalling told the Manchester Evening News. "I think this is the biggest game and biggest derby we face now.
"City have been investing and growing steadily and have hit some great form this season.
"Straightaway when you come here to the city the Manchester derby is something everybody talks about.
"Yes I was an Arsenal fan and loved the derbies I went to see against Spurs. I loved the passion of the occasion. But I am very much United now and this derby has overtaken the north London one in my mind."
And Smalling, who made his senior debut for England in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria last month, believes defence will be the key to winning the top of the table clash.
"City have been very solid the last few years but this year they have gone out and bought some attacking players so they have two sides to their game now.
"The defences on Sunday could be key. It could come down to which is more solid because both sides have got great attacking talent.
"These are the kind of tests I want. It is great to be able to say you have played against some of the best players and have more than matched them."
"I think it is great to have that challenge on your doorstep. A lot of the fans enjoy the rivalry but the players relish it as well. It is a big test."
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