Manchester City vs Manchester United
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Referee: Anthony Taylor
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
The first Manchester Derby of the 19/20 season beckons. Kicking off at 5:30 pm on Saturday, both halves of Manchester come into the game on the back of good victories midweek, with the blue half demolishing Burnley at their own home ground, and the red half ending their former manager’s (Jose Mourinho) unbeaten start to life as Tottenham Hotspot manager.
There has been some unrest growing on both sides, with City fans a little frustrated with the mounting injuries and recent results, with some United fans firmly ‘Ole out’ after a dismal start to this season. The results midweek will have stilled the waters, but the tide remains to be tackled. A victory on Saturday with all of England watching would go some way to mitigating the situation.
Marcus Rashford was on supreme form against Spurs, tormenting Aurier and Davinson Sanchez at will, finding space to shoot often and netting a brace. Likewise, Gabriel Jesus, who had thus far played second-fiddle to Aguero, put a stopgap in the doubters’ words with a wonderfully executed brace against Burnley. With both strikers coming off the back of successful outings, one hopes that we see the end-to-end attacking charisma that the derby has been missing for a few years.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has done his bit in igniting the flames and raising the stakes ahead of the meeting between the two sides, drawing attention to the fact that City used to be in and out of the Premier League, so the derby wasn’t as frequent an occurrence back then as it is today. Knowing Pep Guardiola, he’ll prefer his team to respond on the pitch.
Manchester United have won only 1 of their last 11 league games on the road, and haven’t kept a clean sheet on their last 12 away outings. This is their 2nd worst spell in history, after going 15 successive games with their net breached in 1986.
Manchester United have lost just once in their last 4 outings at the Etihad Stadium, winning twice and drawing once.
Manchester City could become only the 2nd team in history to defeat Manchester United by 2+ goals consecutively in 3 meetings (Winning 3-1 and 2-0 against their derby rivals last season).
Only Chelsea (18) have won more games against Manchester United than have Manchester City (15).
Ilkay Gundogan served his suspension against Burnley and is eligible to be selected once again. He did finish a ridiculous 44 pass goal against these opponents last season, but I personally believe is unlikely to start, given Rodri’s immense display against Burnley.
Oleksandr Zinchenko had been training with the City squad for nearly a week now after a knee surgery saw him out of action for nearly six weeks. He will be available to be called upon, meaning Guardiola can have his pick of the three left-backs.
Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte continue to be long term absentees.
Paul Pogba is highly unlikely to feature, but a rumour circulated on Twitter that he had an “outside chance” of making it for the derby. Solksjaer mentioned in his press conference that Pogba was back on grass training, and should be fit for the new year, but this particular game comes too early for him.
Anthony Martial missed the match against Spurs owing to a hamstring issue, but the gaffer has commented that he should be able to feature against the arch-rivals, even if it involves him coming off the bench.
Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailley continue to be unavailable for selection, whereas Nemanja Matic is presently lacking match fitness, ruling him out of contention as well.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; David Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sterling
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; Fred, McTominay, Andreas Periera; Daniel James, Greenwood, Rashford
Score Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Manchester United
Despite United’s recent success over Spurs, I believe City’s challenge will prove to be a little too hot for them to handle. Guardiola will have fired his players up for the Derby, and despite Sergio Aguero’s lethal touch up top, the quality of De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling and Jesus should be enough to see the Citizens retain bragging rights once more.