Man City vs Man Utd Preview | Confirmed team news | Expected line-ups | Prediction
Man Utd will make the short trip across the city to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday where they will face league leaders Man City in the Manchester Derby, kick off 16:30.
In the first Manchester derby of the season back in December, the game ended in a 0-0 draw with neither team being able to find that little bit of magic needed to put their team ahead.
There is no doubt City have been massively impressive this season, currently on a 21-game winning-streak and leading the table by 14 points. However, Man Utd have a record of their own, currently sitting on a run of 21 away games unbeaten. So, the question on Sunday will be which record is going to be broken first.
This time round, there is just as much of a chance that it will end up being a toughly fought match, with both sides looking to take all three points. What is certain is that quality and creativity are going to be the two deciding factors potentially leading one team into creating a chance and sealing the victory.
For the first time this season, Man City will go into Sunday’s game with no injury concerns and a fully fit squad.
Pep Guardiola reported in his pre-match press conference that Nathan Ake will be available for selection again after his period on the side lines with a muscle injury. Guardiola said, “It’s good news for us, Nathan is back. He made the training sessions and felt really good. Everyone is fit.”
Man Utd on the other hand have been struck with injuries throughout the squad as of late.
Edinson Cavani returned to action on Wednesday evening, however, Anthony Martial was unavailable after suffering an injury to the knee in training on Monday. Donny van de Beek, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Phil Jones are also among those suffering with injuries.
Speaking to club media, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, “we’re still hoping to get one or two back of course” but “we can’t promise any of them being available that weren’t available in the last game against Palace.”
Solskjaer also confirmed that David De Gea has returned to Spain for the birth of his first child, therefore Dean Henderson will get a chance again at the weekend.
If Utd receive no injury boosts before Sunday, they will be playing with pretty much the same squad that faced Crystal Palace mid-week. This, potentially leaving Solskjaer with concern over fatigue and the fitness of his players.
Man City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; de Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Foden, Sterling, Silva.
As City have a fully fit squad to choose from, it would not be a surprise if Guardiola was to largely rotate his squad.
The first change is likely to see John Stones – who was rested mid-week – come in for Aymeric Laporte. Oleksandr Zinchenko is also pushing for a recall, however, Guardiola may opt to leave Kyle Walker in the squad due to his pace against the likes of Marcus Rashford.
Ilkay Gundogan was rested mid-week and following his current run of good form, there is a great chance he will regain his spot in midfield alongside Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne. Bernardo Silva would then be pushed higher up the field into a right-wing position.
Up front, Gabriel Jesus and Riyah Mahrez have been in great form recently, however, they may lose their spot in the starting line-up to Phil Foden who will operate on the left, pushing Raheem Sterling into a centre-forward position.
Whatever starting XI City go with, the bench is clearly going to be extremely strong allowing Guardiola to use the substitutes in a tactful way, impacting massively on the game.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, James; Cavani.
As David De Gea is currently in Spain and will have to comply with quarantine rules on his return, Dean Henderson is set to see a run of games as Utd’s number one goalie.
The back four is only likely to see one change from mid-week with Victor Lindelof returning to partner Harry Maguire. Lindelof has been battling with a long-term back problem, however after his rest mid-week he should be available for Sunday.
The second change for Utd will likely see Scott McTominay come in for Nemanja Matic. Matic has put in some strong performances lately, however, the fact McTominay was rested for the majority of Wednesday’s game means it is more likely he will start on Sunday.
The third change Utd are likely to make will see Daniel James come in for Mason Greenwood on the right-wing. It is possible Utd will be having to defend for large parts of the game, therefore James will provide some extra pace in attack and the hard-work ethic to press off of the ball.
If Anthony Martial is fit for the game, it would not be surprising to see Solskjaer start him ahead of Edinson Cavani. Nevertheless, with Martial currently a doubt, Cavani looks set to lead the line.
With Pogba, Mata, van de Beek and potentially Martial all doubts for the game, it may be a struggle for Solskjaer to implement any in-game tactics or impact subs, relying heavily on whichever players start on the pitch.
Similar to their previous encounter at Old Trafford, the game is likely to be toughly fought by both sides. Arguably, it is more important for Utd to take all three points in order to retain the second-place position and put some pressure on City. However, there is just as much riding on the game for City who will lose their 21-game winning streak if they fail to win.
As both teams have a lot riding on the result, my prediction is:
Man City 0 – 0 Man Utd
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