The 191st edition of the Manchester derby serves to round off the Premier League weekend as Manchester United and Manchester City go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Andre Onana’s stoppage-time penalty save saw Erik ten Hag’s side weather the storm and beat Copenhagen 1-0 in midweek Champions League action, making it three wins on the spin across all competitions.
United couldn’t have timed their return to form any better, going from back-to-back defeats to three consecutive victories to alleviate some pressure on the Dutch manager ahead of the derby day.
Despite an inspiring first season at the Theatre of Dreams, the former Ajax boss is in a precarious spot following the club’s worst seven-match Premier League start in over three decades.
However, he guided Man Utd to a phenomenal 2-1 comeback win in this fixture last season, so there won’t be a shortage of confidence in his corner ahead of one of the most iconic match-ups in English football.
Visiting Man City avenged a controversial defeat at Old Trafford by reclaiming bragging rights with a 2-1 triumph in last season’s FA Cup final and now take this trip in the midst of a purple patch.
Pep Guardiola’s lads followed up last weekend’s 2-1 home win over Brighton & Hove Albion with a 3-1 romping of Young Boys in the Champions League on Wednesday, putting a rough spell behind them.
Injuries and suspensions had contributed to the Cityzens’ underwhelming run of three defeats in four competitive games beforehand, but they’re now seemingly back on track.
For over a year, Old Trafford had been an unpenetrable fortress. However, Man Utd relinquished their home dominance in mid-September with a 3-1 defeat to Brighton before losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace.
The Red Devils avoided losing three successive home league outings with a sensational 2-1 win over Brentford last time out, courtesy of Scott McTominay’s injury-time brace.
But United’s form this season has lacked conviction. Each of their five Premier League victories has come by a single-goal margin, though ten Hag would hardly mind another narrow win.
United will have to earn it, knowing the eight losses they have suffered at the hands of Man City at home are more than any other side has managed at Old Trafford in the Premier League era.
After Arsenal’s last-gasp winner condemned Man City to a second consecutive league loss on hostile turf, Guardiola’s men are staring down the barrel of a three-game losing away streak for the first time since 2020.
History isn’t always relevant in these high-profile meetings, yet the last time the Cityzens lost three away league games on the trot, one of them was against Man Utd.
It was back in March 2020 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer outplayed Guardiola. The Spaniard has since gained a foothold in this fixture, overseeing three shutouts on four subsequent visits to Old Trafford.
Another clean sheet would be helpful, which could prove a tall order, considering the reigning Premier League holders come into this showdown having conceded on seven straight road trips.
Man Utd’s understrength backline was lucky to shut out Copenhagen. Replicating that feat against Man City without Lisandro Martinez, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia won’t be easy.
Casemiro’s return to the fold after missing the last two games with injury comes in handy. McTominay will likely drop to the bench, with Christian Eriksen expected to partner the Brazilian midfielder.
Man City cannot call upon Manuel Akanji, who picked up a late red card against Brighton, so John Stones may return to the centre-back role to partner Ruben Dias.
Guardiola’s men have already got used to playing without talismanic playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, whose recovery could take at least two more months.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Sergio Reguilon; Casemiro, Scott McTominay; Christian Eriksen, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes; Rasmus Hojlund.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Ederson; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol; Rodri, Mateo Kovacic; Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, Jeremy Doku; Erling Haaland.
We Say: Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City
Man Utd’s mini-revival has helped them reduce the gap on second-placed Man City to only six points coming into this round.
While a victory could prove a turning point for the Red Devils, we don’t fancy their chances here, although the atmosphere at Old Trafford could inspire them to a draw.
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