Manchester United take on their city rivals and league leaders at the weekend. It promises to be an explosive fixture, with both sides wanting 3 points from this game. The fixture has certainly picked up in importance over the years, with the emergence of City as serious challengers to the elite in English football and now cementing their place as an established force. This change in fortunes is reflected in the recent results with Manchester City having won six of their last eight derbies in the Premier League. Prior to this City had managed only six victories in their previous 42 derby matches.
With both teams having played an important champions league fixture on Wednesday night, they will now need to change focus and concentrate on this high profile game. Had they been playing lesser opposition there could be an element of taking the opposition for granted, but with this game you would expect that will not be the case.
United go into the game at Old Trafford having recovered from the mauling at the Emirates with a convincing win at Goodison and they will have been pleased with a valuable point away from home in the Champions League. City have also had a mini revival after a dip in form earlier this season, and they sit pretty at the top of the table, knowing they can not take their eye off the ball, with the challengers poised to pounce.
Last Season – Head to head
City ran out 1-0 winners in the game at the Etihad, with Smalling receiving a red card, the ten men of United did push City but were unable to make the breakthrough they desperately wanted.
In the game at Old Trafford, United dominated proceedings and more surprisingly the midfield, as they had 58% of the possession and won the game 4-2.
Juan Mata was rested for the game against CSKA Moscow and will most likely return to the starting line up. This means Jesse Lingard is likely to return to the bench and it remains to be seen if Van Gaal will deploy Martial on the wing on stick with Herrera in the number 10 role with Rooney as the front man.
With Darmian suffering from a dip on form, Van Gaal has an important decision to make on who is likely to mark Raheem Sterling, will he trust Darmian to find form and put him back in the starting line up or will go back to using Valencia is the right back slot, where he was so effective last season. He also provides electrifying pace as he showed with his support play last night, and provided the crucial cross for Martial’s equaliser.
Carrick was a key performer last season, and with Bastian Schweinsteiger struggling to make and impact in the bigger games, we may see Carrick back in the starting line up.
For City Aguero is still likely to be missing and so Wilfried Bony is likely to continue to deputise. Bony has managed to score 2 goals in 7 games for City and will be hoping to kick on now that he has the opportunity to come out of Aguero’s shadow.
Kevin De Bruyne is in sensational form at present, having scored 3 goals and has 3 assists to his name in 5 appearances, he is likely to be a key player to watch on Sunday.
Man Utd: De Gea, Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Herrera, Martial, Rooney
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Mangala, Sagna, Touré, Fernandinho, Jesús Navas, Sterling, De Bruyne, Bony