It’s a game that used to be a fight between a huge favourite and an underdog despite it being a derby. The case is same now, just the roles have reversed. Manchester United welcome city rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford as the marquee fixture of Premier League Matchday 10 takes shape.
Man United, despite being undermatched in terms of quality and recent results, always seem to get up for this game, particularly at Old Trafford. Therefore, Pep Guardiola will be under no misunderstanding that it will be an easy game. The points table and form books go out of the window in a derby and despite their below-par performances, United do come into the game on a three-game winning streak.
Here’s the match preview, analysis, team news, and all you need to know about one of English football’s biggest fixtures:
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester.
When: Sunday, 29th October, 2023.
Time: 3.30 PM BST
Referee: Paul Tierney.
Assistants: Neil Davis & Scott Ledger.
Fourth official: Craig Pawson.
VAR: Michael Oliver.
Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt.
Manchester United received a big boost in the midweek as Sergio Reguilon made his return from injury, finally giving United a natural LB option. They could get another fullback option back for this game as Aaron Wan-Bissaka is close to returning to action.
Of course, it’s unlikely that he gets thrown straight into the deep end but his being in the squad will allow overworked Diogo Dalot to get a breather and ensure competition for places in the RB position is on again. Wan-Bissaka could be joined by Casemiro, who picked up a knock on international duty but could be deemed fit for this one. His return will be a big boost as Sofyan Amrabat has struggled for form.
Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, and Amad remain short of fitness while Jadon Sancho’s exile is still in place.
The picture is much clearer at Manchester City, where Kevin de Bruyne is the only absentee and Pep Guardiola rotated a lot against Young Boys in midweek in preparation for this game. Manuel Akanji will miss this game after getting suspended for receiving two yellow cards but City’s options are plenty in defence.
Erik ten Hag’s tactics have come under the scanner recently as he has tried to turn United into a team that plays quickly forward and on transitions. It has led to them ceding possession cheaply numerous times and being under the cosh for the majority of the game.
Against Man City, however, that plan might actually work, given the United forwards find their shooting boots against after missing glaring chances recently.
That is because Manchester City will play with their trademark high line to press in United’s half and create overloads. If United can play through the press, which is what Onana was brought for, they will find themselves in acres of space in behind. The pacey forwards will then come into play, a dream scenario for Man United.
If not, prepare for a game between Man City’s attacks vs Manchester United’s defence as Red Devils fans scream at their team to do something with the ball the precious time they actually have it.
Onana was mentioned in the match analysis and that’s why he’s United’s key player. City manager Pep Guardiola already marked him out as the player they must neutralise to win this game and he knows firsthand how good a confident version of the Cameroonian is.
When Inter Milan played Man City in the UCL final, Onana was so imperious with his long-passing and press-resistant skills that City players surprisingly even stopped bothering to press him. Inter could then build from the back with an extra man, leading to many chances for the Italian side which their forwards couldn’t finish.
Otherwise, City’s wait for their maiden UCL title would have gone on for even longer.
Onana could be turning around his Manchester United career at the worst time for City. After saving United’s blushes with a last-second penalty save against Copenhagen, he is on top of the world in fans’ eyes. The glint in the eye has returned and if he can follow that performance with another masterful display here, it would be forever remembered as the starting moment of a legendary career at the club.
Sometimes, the most simple answer is, in fact, the right one. It is a testament to the Norwegian’s quality that despite being Premier League’s top scorer at this stage with nine in nine games, his start to the season is considered a bit cold.
There’s no fixture he relishes quite as much as this one. He memorably scored a hattrick against Man United in City’s 6-3 win at the Etihad and against United’s patched-up defence this time, he’ll fancy his chances.
Raphael Varane hasn’t looked like his usual dominant self and if Maguire plays, that will be the biggest test of his “renaissance” so far.
Haaland doesn’t need a second invite to take a shot and score and without a committed defensive display by the whole team, the Norwegian will run riot and cause the Theatre of Dreams to have nightmares.
Man United predicted lineup vs Man City: Onana; Dalot, Maguire, Varane, Reguilon; Casemiro, Mount; Fernandes, Antony, Rashford; Hojlund.
Man City predicted lineup vs Man United: Ederson; Gvardiol, Dias, Walker, Rodri; Stones, Foden, Alvarez; Silva, Grealish, Haaland.