First Manchester derby of the season as in-form heavyweights United & City go toe to toe
Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City
Manchester United suffered a dreadful midweek, where they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage for the first time since 2016.
Their confidence will have taken a beating, though their league form has been excellent of late, winning four matches on the bounce coming into this one.
Most of those wins have come away from home and it has been noted how much better they’ve been on their travels this season. With this match coming at Old Trafford, they’ll need to improve their home performance to stand a chance of winning here.
Manchester City have steadily improved over the past couple of months, drifting in positions well below where they would expect to be, but slowly gathering pace as they climb the table.
This is always a pulsating encounter, usually with plenty of goals and just the one draw in the previous five years.
Form Guide (all comps): WWLWL
Reasons to be cheerful:
League form has been excellent of late
Won a league-high 15 points from losing positions
Reasons to be fearful:
Best form has come away from home
City are a side growing in strength
The fallout of their Champions League exit is yet to be seen, and Manchester United will be desperate to bounce back from their disappointment immediately.
City were able to rest one or two players for their respective midweek fixture, meaning they may feel a little fresher. United must use the passion of the occasion to provide the energy here.
United’s powers of recovery have been spoken about in great detail. They have taken 15 points from losing positions this season, showing how effective they have been at coming back to win matches, but also how poor they have been to concede in the first place.
They will take confidence from the fact that they beat City home and away in the league last season, and even though many would say that City are the stronger side, United’s powers of winning important games can’t be denied.
Star Man – Bruno Fernandes
His importance to United is even greater than De Bruyne is to City. United would be completely lost without him.
Form Guide (all comps): WWDWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Have been steadily improving of late
Great European form will give them confidence
Reasons to be fearful
Form in the big games hasn’t been great this season
Lost both league games to United last year
City will likely be odds on favourite to capture three points this weekend, mainly due to their superior league finishes over United for the past half-decade or so.
In fact, in all but one of the past seven seasons, City have finished with a greater number of points than their close rivals, often beating United in matches that they’ve faced as well.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United have at least turned the tide somewhat in their individual match-ups, winning both league matches last year, as well as three of the last five.
City must improve their performances in big matches this season, losing to Tottenham and Leicester while drawing to Liverpool. They have struggled to create the same number of chances as previous seasons, with United actually scoring more goals than they have so far (19 vs. 17).
Star Man – Kevin De Bruyne
Already has 10 assists in 13 matches this season. He usually comes alive in the big games.
Manchester City will go into the match as favourites
Form can often go out of the window in a derby match
Likely to be 2 or more goals in the match
Derby matches are always tough to call, even between teams with a larger gap in quality than United and City, due to the passion that a rival can bring.
Both teams are coming into this in good league form, though matches against the big teams haven’t quite gone to plan.
This could start out as a tight and cautious game, before opening out in the second half. The form of Fernandes or De Bruyne could settle it either way, but it could end all square.
Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City