Sunday 2nd November – 13:30 – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City welcome bitter rivals Manchester United to the Etihad in Super Sunday’s 168th Manchester derby. These two heavyweights will be looking to earn victory to get their season’s up and running after stuttering of late. After a disappointing draw at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, City succumbed to a surprise 2-1 defeat at West Ham United last weekend, which saw them lose ground on leaders Chelsea. A 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, coupled with injury to key playmaker David Silva, compounded Manuel Pellegrini’s woes and the Chilean boss knows that defeat against United will cast further doubt over his suitability for City’s title defence. The Red Devils will be buoyed by a much improved performance against table-topping Chelsea last time out, with Robin van Persie getting on the scoresheet to give his own confidence a major boost after some lacklustre displays. Despite the draw last week, the 20-time top flight champions have made their worst start to a Premier League season, gaining just 13 points from their opening nine games. Last season under David Moyes, they had 14 points. The tide is going to have to turn for one of them, but which half of Manchester will come out on top on this always special occasion?
The Key Battle: Yaya Toure vs Wayne Rooney
Two players who are reportedly in a fitness race to make this game, Yaya Toure and Wayne Rooney will likely both play as they are key players for their respective sides.
I use the word “key” lightly for Toure, who picked up a groin injury in City’s shock defeat to Newcastle in midweek, since his form of late has been a way off his sparkling performances last season when he bagged 20 league goals, placing him third in the scoring charts.
The Ivorian only has one goal so far in 2014-15, but has scored three in his last four games against Manchester United. Scoring today could depend on the freedom he has to move forward.
Wayne Rooney, returning from a three match suspension, will be given a licence to move forward at the Etihad, but from midfield, and not his natural centre forward position.
Louis van Gaal appears to like to play just the one upfront at the moment, and with Robin van Persie impressing, the England international may well feature just behind.
Rooney has scored more goals than anybody else in Manchester derby history (11), and one that of course sticks out is his acrobatic overhead in February 2011 to win the fixture at Old Trafford late on.
- Manuel Pellegrini will be without David Silva for up to four weeks because of a knee injury sustained in Wednesday’s League Cup defeat by Newcastle.
- Yaya Toure suffered a groin injury in that match but is likely to be fit enough to start.
- Former England midfielder Frank Lampard is still expected to be absent with a thigh injury but playmaker Samir Nasri appeared to make a successful return in midweek from groin surgery.
- Louis van Gaal has denied reports Wayne Rooney has suffered a foot injury and the striker will return to start after his three-match ban.
- The Red Devils’ skipper could replace Juan Mata, who has not made the most of his chance in Rooney’s absence.
- Radamel Falcao has been ruled out with a leg problem, but Antonio Valencia and Jonny Evans could return after hamstring and ankle injuries respectively
Manchester City wins = 44 / Manchester United wins = 65 / Draws = 49
Last Meeting: Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City (25th March 2014)
Manchester City increased the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea by disposing of Manchester United with almost embarrassing ease at Old Trafford. Edin Dzeko scored early in each half – the first inside a minute – and Yaya Toure added a third in stoppage time as City moved into second place and within three points of Chelsea with two games in hand. It was another sobering and thoroughly miserable night for United manager David Moyes as, for the second home league game in succession, the current gap in quality and strength between the then reigning champions and their rivals was emphasised as City followed Liverpool by winning 3-0 and with plenty to spare.
Stat of the Match
Victory for City would see them record four successive league wins against United – a feat they last achieved courtesy of a 4-1 win at Old Trafford in December 1970, when Francis Lee scored a hat-trick.
Where can I watch it?
The match is part of Sky Sports 1’s Super Sunday coverage from 12:30pm, with it kicking-off an hour later. Alternatively, you can watch the highlights on Sunday evening on Match of the Day 2, BBC Two, 10pm.
My Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United
I tipped United to beat Chelsea last week purely because the Blues were without Diego Costa, and their chances of victory this week again rest on a star Premier League striker. Sergio Aguero was on magnificent form against Tottenham two weeks ago, but couldn’t hit a barn door against West Ham last week. Back at the Etihad though, I think the Argentine could run the show in the derby against a Red Devils defence that still looks shaky. Aguero to get two and Daley Blind to score for the visitors.