Manchester City and Manchester United both picked up impressive wins in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, but their focus will now have switched to the derby at the Etihad on Sunday.
In midweek, City scored six for the second match running as they demolished Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk. However, it was arguably Manchester United who had the better result as they snatched a 2-1 win away at Juventus.
In the Premier League though it has been a different story. While United flounder just above mid-table, having already lost three matches, Pep Guardiola’s City side are flying and remain unbeaten from 11 played.
This could all change when the two sides meet on Sunday though. Here’s all you need to know ahead of the huge clash…
What History Tells Us
In this case more than others, history really does mean nothing. With Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm, United dominated their once ‘noisy neighbours’, apart from the 6-1 thrashing that Roberto Mancini’s City dished out at Old Trafford of course.
Perhaps the stand-out stat here then is not to do with results, as discipline could be more telling come Sunday. United will have to avoid adding to their seven derby red cards if they are to stand any hope of stopping the City machine.
Jose Mourinho and Guardiola are old foes. The pair first faced each other as managers during their spells at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and it’s fair to say that they didn’t always see eye to eye.
Despite favouring the same formation, the pair have very different philosophies about how the game should be played. On Sunday, City will once again attempt to dominate possession and play their slick passing game as the Red Devils look to be more direct and hit the Champions on the counter.
Pep may have the edge in terms of games won and goals scored against Mourinho’s sides, but it is still the Portuguese boss who dominates the trophy tally with a quite incredible 20 major honours to his name.
Referee Influence – Anthony Taylor
As reported by The Telegraph, Manchester City fans are fuming with the appointment of Taylor for his first ever Manchester derby. This is not to do with any of his stats or his refereeing ability, but rather the fact that he hails from the United stronghold area of Wythenshawe – just six miles from Old Trafford.
Although he supports non-league Altrincham, there will clearly be extra pressure on the 40-year-old to appear as fair as possible on Sunday, so don’t be surprised to see him evening up decisions where possible.
Taylor is also fifth on the list of 17 Premier League referees for yellow cards dished out per game so far this season. If Sunday is as competitive as the fixture has been in the past, we could see him filling up his notebook once again.
Although City fans are clearly unhappy with the appointment, they should take a crumb of comfort from the home team win bias that Taylor has accrued this season. In fact, the home side have won 82 per cent of his matches so far in this campaign.
The biggest miss for City here will of course be Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian star made a miraculously quick recovery from a knee injury suffered at the start of the season, only to injure his other knee towards the end of the Carabao Cup win over Fulham.
The Citizens have been getting by well without the 27-year-old though, and diminutive Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva has been in exquisite form so expect to see him get the nod from Guardiola once again.
Here at Football FanCast, we’re also expecting the City boss to drop Gabriel Jesus and record-signing Riyad Mahrez to the bench after their Champions League exertions, with 22-year-old Leroy Sane and record-goalscorer Sergio Aguero coming back into the starting XI. Guardiola has a track record of trying to spring surprises on opponents in big games, but we’re expecting him to keep it safe this time around with what most would view as his strongest starting XI
For United, key striker Romelu Lukaku is still considered a doubt after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury, but the 25-year-old was hardly in his best form anyway. This could give another chance for youngster Marcus Rashford to start in his favoured position as a central striker – especially with Alexis Sanchez also a doubt for Sunday’s game.
The 21-year-old wonderkid was born in Wythenshawe, just as referee Taylor was, and will relish the chance to get at the slightly suspect (particularly against Tottenham) City back four.
With Anthony Martial, who was recently recalled to the French national squad, on the left-hand side and a return for Jesse Lingard on the right, Mourinho will be hoping that his pacy front-three can hit their neighbours with quick counter-attacks.
Bearing in mind the immense quality that City possess though, this will be a huge test of the United wingers, particularly Martial, who will need to track back for the full 90 minutes and work as hard as they ever have done on a football pitch.
Ahead of the much anticipated Manchester derby this Sunday, 888sport pitted two passionate club vloggers against one another in the latest episode of its heated debate series ‘A Tenner Says’.
Full Time Devils’ Adam McKola and Blue Moon Rising TV’s Alex Hylton battled around the theme of United’s treble-winning ’99 team vs Man City’s 100-point record-breaking 2018 team…
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