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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Match preview

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Who will claim the bragging rights as Manchester’s bitter rivals lock horns once more…

 

Manchester City vs Manchester United: Match Preview

The Manchester Derby, a game fuelled by both hatred and passion in the pursuit of pride and so often, the Premier League crown. Looking ahead to this fixture a couple weeks back and Sunday’s encounter between the two sides could once more have posed as a crucial date in the diary for the title race.

Instead, the two sides could not be in more contrasting form as they go head to head at the Etihad stadium.

Although it remains first vs third, the stakes do not seem quite as high as they may have once been when Sir Alex Ferguson faced off against a Roberto Mancini or Manuel Pellegrini City side. The Citizens sit high and mighty at the top of the Premier League standings with a commanding 14 point lead over United, as their incredible form shows no signs of slowing down.

Nevertheless, despite City’s comfortable breathing space at the top of the league, United have shown in the past that league standings bare little relevance when Derby day comes around. The unpredictability of Sunday’s encounter leaves us fans with an intriguing encounter to look forward to on another lazy lockdown afternoon.

 

Current Form

Man City

City could not be heading into tomorrow’s showdown in arguably a richer vein of form. The Sky Blue’s 4-1 victory over Wolves on Tuesday night marked their 21st consecutive victory in all competitions and equalled a club-record 28 games without defeat.

Conor Coady’s 61st-minute header threatened to thwart City’s pursuit of a 15th consecutive Premier League victory, however their resilience and attacking prowess once more shone through as they netted three times in the final 10 minutes through Gabriel Jesus (80,90+3) and Riyad Mahrez (90).

The fact City are able to boast the highest goal difference in the league as well as the strongest defensive record, highlights the balance of quality throughout the squad.

Their two main men, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero have missed large parts of the season. However, a number of players have more than stepped up in their absence, most notably Ilkay Gündogan and Phil Foden.

Gundogan has been in hot goal scoring form, notching 11 so far this season as well as playing an instrumental role in midfield alongside academy graduate Foden.

The 20 year-old has six goals and three assists in the league so far this season, but it is his performances in big games that have caught the eye. The Mancunian was influential in City’s 4-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield in February, putting in a man of the match performance and topping it off with an exquisite fourth goal for the visitors.

Whether Foden will start from the off is unclear with Kevin De Bruyne’s return to the squad, however Pep Guardiola will be well aware of the impact Foden could have in the latter stages of the game.

Rúben Dias has formed a formidable partnership with John Stones at the back, with City conceding just three times in the 16 league games they have started together.

Versatile full-back João Cancelo has also enjoyed a highly successful season and will pose a dangerous threat with his driving runs down the right flank. It’s safe to say that the City squad as a whole are in a rich vein of form and head into tomorrow’s fixture as red hot favourites.

 

Man United

United’s drab 0-0 away to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night marked their third goalless draw in a row, with their lack of cutting edge and eight points dropped in their last five league games, it will be a serious cause for concern going into their visit to the Etihad.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to improve on United’s record against the ‘Big Six’ this season, with the Red Devils yet to record a win and their single goal scored coming in a 6-1 defeat at home to Spurs.

Nevertheless, in their main man Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer will know a strong performance from him would put them well on their way to a much needed victory against their neighbours.

United’s talisman already has 15 league goals to his name, two behind top goal scorer Mohamed Salah, whilst also boasting ten league assists. The influence he has had on United since his arrival a year and a half ago is clear to see, and he will be expected to add to his stellar goal contributions this season with PFA Player of the Year quickly becoming a very realistic prospect.

Despite Solskjaer claiming his good record against Guardiola ‘counts for nothing’, he will be reminding his players of the league double they achieved over City last season, their first since the 2009/10 campaign.

The Reds will be hurting from their sharp drop in form, and tomorrow’s derby poses as the perfect opportunity to respond, whilst ending their bitter rivals unbeaten run and avoiding being dragged into a race for European qualification.

 

The Stats

Manchester United are looking to win three consecutive away games against Manchester City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

Manchester City haven’t trailed for a single minute in any of their last 19 Premier League games- if they don’t fall behind against United it will be a new record in the competitions history (Arsenal with also 19 between December 1998-May 1999).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could become the first manager in Manchester United’s history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions against Manchester City.

Manchester United are unbeaten in 21 away Premier League matches (W13 D8). In top flight history only Arsenal have had a longer away unbeaten run, going 23 without defeat between August 2001 and September 2002 and 27 without defeat between April 2003 and September 2004.

Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero has scored nine goals in 16 Manchester derby appearances, he remains two behind top goal scorer Wayne Rooney’s eleven.

 

Team News

Pep Guardiola is set to have a fully-fit squad for the first time this season after Nathan Ake’s return from a muscular problem, which had kept the Dutchman on the side-lines for the last two months. He last appeared in City’s 2-0 Boxing Day win over Newcastle United.

Dean Henderson is set to retain his place in the United line-up and the Englishman is set for a run of games in the starting XI, after Solskjaer granted David De Gea permission to return to Spain to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

Juan Mata and Phil Jones remain unavailable whilst Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba are all doubts after missing the midweek draw against Palace.

 

Verdict: City to go marching on making it 22 wins in a row

With the attacking quality United have on show, as well as individuals worthy of match winning performances, the Reds are more than capable of pulling off an away victory against City, as they have proven over the last few years.

Nevertheless, their heavy reliance on individuals will prove costly against a City side whose stunning run has very much come from a collective effort. Ederson has proved throughout the season there is no keeper in the league superior. Dias, Stones and Cancelo will go into the game full of confidence and that is before analysing the Blue’s formidable midfield and attack- all of whom are fully fit.

Guardiola’s men will prove too much for United to handle and although we expect a respectable fight from United, it will be the Citizens who prevail victorious.

Prediction: Man City 2-1 Man United 

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Manchester City vs Manchester United: Match preview.’ Who do you think will win tomorrow? Let us know in the comments! 

 

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Eli is currently completing his NCTJ Diploma in MultiMedia Journalism and has a BA in Communications and Media from the University of Liverpool. He is a passionate boxing fan and devoted Gooner who hopes he will live to see the mighty Arsenal return to their former glory days. He can be contacted at elihaidari@yahoo.co.uk

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