This weekend is a matter of pride for the city of Manchester, with both sides face off in an intense, attacking match at the Etihad. The Reds of Manchester take on their blue counterpart on the back of a fantastic performance against Tottenham, with City playing after a dominant win against Burnley.
The match against Manchester United however will prove to be a far more challenging and may as well sound the death knell for Manchester City’s title race. But this silver lining comes with a cloud; Liverpool will be given an extended lead in the title race and will be 14 points clear off last season’s champions if they win against Bournemouth. This season, we have seen an uncharacteristic Manchester City team who have won only 2 out of their last 6 matches in all competitions. They struggled versus Chelsea, a match with the went on to win after a difficult comeback. City haven’t had a woeful season, but compared to the two teams above them, and compared to the standards set by them since the last two seasons, they definitely have been downgraded.
Manchester United performed exceptionally well in what Ole termed the performance of the season, against Tottenham and will continue to play with the same energy against City. Ole’s record against the top 6, this season has been great, with no losses and 3 wins, two against Chelsea and one against Tottenham, along with a win versus Leicester City. They will go into the game full of confidence with Marcus Rashford in red hot form, the midfield working well, Jesse Lingard in his December power and David de Gea putting in a number of great performances. United seem to play with a different swagger against difficult teams, and tend to go down versus easy ones, just like Wolves, last season.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: Saturday, December 7
Time: 17:30 GMT
Man Utd have only lost one of their last four away league games against Man City (W2 D1), though it was in this exact fixture last season (1-3).
Man City won 3-1 and 2-0 against Man Utd in the Premier League last season – the last team to beat the Red Devils by 2+ goals in three consecutive top-flight meetings was Liverpool, who did so in four in a row between 1978-1979.
Manchester City have won 24 of their last 27 Premier League home games (D1 L2), with the Citizens netting 81 goals in that time, only failing to score on one occasion.
Manchester United have won just one of their last 11 away league games (D4 L6), and are without a clean sheet in their last 12 on the road. They last conceded in more consecutive away league games in April 1986 (15 games).
Ole will start an unchanged squad versus Manchester City with Martial yet out due to injury. Previously with Martial out Ole switched to a back 3, which didn’t work out in his favour. Moreover a match like this is just what Mason Greenwood would want to firmly write his name as a Manchester United striker. Rashford is an undisputed pick for the side and Dan James with his incredible pace and chance crosses down the right proving dangerous match by match.
Pep Guardiola too should start the same squad, with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of Sergio Aguero and Angelino doing a better job at left back as compared to Mendy. Pep’s midfield in all likelihood will be unchanged with Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Rodri playing well with each other. However, he might start Ilkay Gundagon in place of Rodri, just to shuffle up the team. Bernado Silva and Sterling will both play as wingers, with the duo turning out to be at their best at Manchester City.
Man City lineup: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, D. Silva; B. Silva, Jesus, Sterling.
Man Utd lineup: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Fred; James, Lingard, Rashford; Greenwood.
The Manchester Derby on 7th April, 2018 will be a fond memory for United fans and an exciting derby too, with United coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and delaying City’s title victory. United hope to have a similar performance this weekend and keep Manchester red and City, their ‘noisy neighbours’ will look do defeat United to keep their thin thread of title hopes, alive.