Barely a week after Manchester City dehumanized Chelsea in a 4-0 win at Etihad, the Sky Blues travel to Old Trafford to take on the other half of Manchester. Riyadh Mahrez was on target for Manchester City last time out in the Premier League against Chelsea. The defending Premier League Champions now turn their attention to their city rivals, Manchester United, as they continue to trail Arsenal at the EPL summit.
Both teams have been in good form lately and are coming from parties in the EPL. While Manchester City defeated Chelsea, United claimed a 3-0 win over Bournemouth. That win for Erik Ten Hag and his boys made it their sixth consecutive win in all competitions having tasted defeat last to Aston Villa, a 3-1 loss on November 6.
The trip to Old Trafford for the Manchester Derby wouldn’t particularly dig up nostalgic memories for United as they recollect the infamous 6-3 haul they endured at the hands of their noisy neighbours back in October. Both Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks against United and despite goals from Antony and Anthony Martial(2), Erik Ten Hag’s side were obviously outclassed without argument. Haaland wasted no time in making his intentions known to United, securing a third consecutive home hat-trick against the Red Devils. Overall, City put so much pressure on the United defence which was quite shambolic in nature.
The Norwegian prodigy turned on the heat as he exuded aerial prowess, positioning, adeptness and acuteness. That wasn’t all from his mastermind, though. Haaland made two assists in the match, setting Foden up for two of his three goals thanks to his vision and ability to read through the opposition’s defence. Haaland particularly delivered a wonderful assist for Foden’s third, using his frame and size to hold up play while letting Foden through the defence, all of whom were clustered around the Norwegian.
Needless to say, the link-up play between these two proved very effective and lethal in devastating Erik Ten Hag’s boys. They were on quite a different level from every other player on the pitch; and this includes Riyadh Mahrez and Bernando Silva. City’s defence rarely had work to do as it was an all-attack day for the hosts. They were barely tested and stretched while United on the other hand had more than a “tough day at work”. United were ripped apart and that without reservations.
Are United looking any different from the team that got balked last Manchester Derby?
Manchester United as we all know are a work in progress. It’s really conspicuous how far they’ve come in their reformation and restructuring under Erik Ten Hag. There’s a noticeable difference between the club now and before the season. The mentality, the plan, a good number of things have changed. But that will be put to the test on Sunday when they set out on their retribution course against their city rivals. Perhaps, Manchester City would prove to be too much an opponent or make quick work of them.
Is Erling Haaland the best player in the world?
Perhaps, United would stun Guardiola’s side to claim all three points. Perhaps both sides would be bloodied and battered in an enthralling stalemate at the end of ninety. It remains to be seen.
United had better watch out for Riyad Mahrez, though. While Haaland was quiet against Chelsea on Thursday and absent on Sunday, Mahrez has scored three in the past two meetings against Chelsea. The City forward chipped in a beautiful free-kick against the Blues, the first of the quadruple of goals they scored en-route to victory.
The fact that City were top-notch without Ederson, Dias, Stones, Haaland, De Bruyne is simply stunning, though Chelsea also had a couple of absentees. Julian Alvarez would also be another player to be watchful for, the Argentine finally made an appearance for his side for the first time since winning the World Cup late last year and was able to find the back of the net via a penalty. Now that Alvarez has returned, that could spell more trouble for City’s opponents considering the real attacking force he could augment to Haaland and Foden.
Form and Stats:
- Manchester United is on a eight-game winning streak compared to Manchester City’s six. The last time they recorded a loss was on November 6.
- Manchester City have won their past three meetings with United(2-0, 4-1 and 6-3)
- Riyadh Mahrez has found the back of the net thrice in City’s past two games.
- With 21, Haaland has just six goals less than United’s combined tally in the Premier League.
- Marcus Rashford has seven in six in United’s past six fixtures. He has scored a goal in each of United’s past five games(post-World Cup)
Injuries Impacting Manchester Derby
Ruben Dias will most likely not be in the mix for City on Sunday. The centre-back has struggled with fitness ever since returning from the World Cup in Qatar, so we won’t get to see him on Sunday.
- Donny Van de Beek: Van de Beek picked up a knee injury in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth last week Tuesday and should sit out on this one, too.
- Axel Tuanzebe
- Jaden Sancho
Possible starting XI:
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Bernando, Foden, Haaland.
De Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw, Casemiro, Eriksen, Fernandes, Garnacho, Martial, Rashford.
Manchester United have the upper hand with 77 wins compared to City’s 58. Both sides have 53 draws between each other
In the past 20 encounters Manchester City have won nine while United have won eight with three draws.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-2 Manchester United.
Manchester Derby Venue and Stadium
Sunday, January 15, 12:30 GMT
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images