Manchester United welcome their cross-city rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford for the 170th meeting between the two sides and one which is shaping up as one of the most interesting ones in recent seasons with more than just bragging rights up for stake.
City currently sit two points clear of United in second place, after Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Everton last night which took them to the top of the table, but a win for United would see them leap-frog City. With defending champions Chelsea having fallen off the pace and with only the Gunners seemingly shaping up as serious title contenders, the match will have huge implications on the title race. Derbies are always testing affairs but given the stakes and the context of the title race, they don’t get much more important than this.
After two seasons recovering from the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and too many years of frugality, United have a chance to reassert their authority in Manchester and in the Premier League. It could prove to be a crucial contest in United’s attempts to get back to the top. It is now three seasons since they won the last of their 20 league titles, with this being the first time since that they have held realistic ambitions of landing the top prize. Yet there is still much for Louis van Gaal’s side to do in order to prove they have real title credentials.
City go into this clash missing their leading marksman Sergio Aguero and key creative asset David Silva. In the past, they have capitulated under the weight of such key absentees, but now, with £100m spent on two young attackers in the summer, they will hope the situation is. City’s last two outings against Bournemouth and Sevilla provide a powerful argument for that being the case. With Chelsea’s collapse, there can be little doubt that Manuel Pellegrini’s men are the outstanding candidates to lift the Premier League title this campaign. And yet there have still been signs of a lack of consistency that prevent them from dominating as many expected in previous seasons.
DATE, TIME AND COVERAGE
Sunday 25 September, 14:00 BST (19:25 IST) kick-off. Live on Sky Sports 2/HD (Star Sports 4/HD). Live match commentary on BBC Football.
Luke Shaw (leg) and Paddy McNair (liver) are the only injury concerns for Van Gaal while winger Ashley Young is back in training but is not ready to play on Sunday after missing three weeks of action with a thigh injury.
On the other hand, for City, Aguero (hamstring) and Silva (ankle) lead their lengthy injury. Fabian Delph (hamstring), Gael Clichy (ankle) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) are all out while captain Vincent Kompany is in contention, but Pellegrini said in his press conference that both Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi are doing well.
HEAD TO HEAD
Played – 169
Manchester United Wins – 70
Draw – 50
Manchester City Wins – 49
HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES
12-Apr-15 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Manchester City
02-Nov-14 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
25-Mar-14 – Premier League – Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City
22-Sep-13 – Premier League – Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United
08-Apr-13 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City
Manchester United – DWLWW
21-Oct – Champions League – CSKA Moscow 1-1 Manchester United
17-Oct – Premier League – Everton 0-3 Manchester United
04-Oct – Premier League – Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United
30-Sep – Champions League – Manchester United 2-1 Wolfsburg
26-Sep – Premier League – Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland
Manchester City – WWWWL
21-Oct – Champions League – Manchester City 2-1 Sevilla
17-Oct – Premier League – Manchester City 5-1 Bournemouth
03-Oct – Premier League – Manchester City 6-1 Newcastle United
30-Sep – Champions League – Borussia Monchengladbach 1-2 Manchester City
26-Sep – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Manchester City
Morgan Schneiderlin v Kevin de Bruyne
Manchester City are without their two key players Aguero and Silva meaning the onus of creating chances will fall on Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian international has got off to a dream start in his career at City and has bagged five assists and five goals already this campaign. He has slotted into the side perfectly. On the other hand, Morgan Schneiderlin has been showing his best in the last two games against Everton and CSKA Moscow though. The former Southampton midfielder boasts a good passing range and is solid in his defensive duties. He was key to United keeping Ross Barkley quiet throughout the game last weekend and will be given a similar job against De Bruyne. This could be the all-important battle which could decide the outcome of the game. If the Frenchman can keep the ginger Belgian quiet, United can have a stroll in the park. Conversely, if De Bruyne can get the better of Schneiderlin and use his skill to get free and into those pockets of space between the United midfield and defence, City can blow United away.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) – David De Gea; Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo; Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial; Wayne Rooney.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) – Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov; Yaya Toure, Fernandinho; Jesus Navas, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling; Wilfried Bony.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
- Wayne Rooney has scored 11 goals in Manchester derbies (all comps); more than any other player in this fixture.
- Rooney is 30 years old on the day before this match – no player has scored as many Barclays Premier League goals as he has by the age of 30 (187).
- Manchester City have won six of their last eight Manchester derbies in league competition (L2) – prior to this run Man City had won six of their previous 42 derby matches versus Man Utd.
- Man Utd have won 17 of their 23 Barclays Premier League home matches under Louis van Gaal (74%), conceding only 16 goals (D3 L3).
- Man City are looking for their 50th competitive win in the Manchester derby (W49 D50 L69).
- None of the last 12 Manchester derbies in all competitions have ended as a draw (five United wins, seven City wins).
- The last 10 Manchester derbies in all competitions have seen 41 goals scored (4.1 goals per match).
- Man City have had the most shots on target (74) and have allowed their opponents the fewest (24) in the opening nine matchdays of 2015-16.
Name – Mark Clattenburg
Based – Durham
Age – 40
Games – 7
Yellow Cards – 29
Red Cards – 2
Penalties – 3
Manchester United 17/10, Draw 11/5, Manchester City 9/5
This fixture rarely fails to live up to all the hype surrounding it and in recent years has been one of the most entertaining ones with 41 goals scored in the last 10 games between these two sides. Expect this one to be an open game full of goals, fireworks and a lot of talking points. This game is an important one for both sides, but more so for United who are aiming to prove that they have developed under Van Gaal. This is the toughest derby to predict in a number of years, but I can’t see United losing this one given their impressive form under at Old Trafford under the Dutchman. De Bruyne and Sterling have been outstanding and United will have to keep them quiet but other than that I don’t see how City can hurt United without Aguero and Silva. I think United will just win this one – with Rooney on the scoresheet – although a draw won’t be a bad result for either team.
Predicted Score – Manchester Untied 2-1 Manchester City.