Sunday 25th October – 14:05 – Old Trafford
Manchester United will look to leapfrog neighbours Manchester City in the table with victory in what is slowly becoming the biggest derby in England. Louis van Gaal’s men sit two points behind City heading into the weekend’s fixtures, winning four of their past five Premier League outings including a 3-0 away victory at Everton last weekend. Anthony Martial rescued a point for United at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League in midweek, while City made it four wins in a row in all competitions as they saw off Sevilla on Wednesday night thanks to a late Kevin De Bruyne strike. Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick helped them win their last Premier League fixture 5-1 against Bournemouth last weekend. Both teams are in action again on Wednesday night, hosting Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace respectively in the League Cup.
- Louis van Gaal has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s derby.
- Ashley Young is not ready to return from a calf problem and joins Paddy McNair (liver) and Luke Shaw (leg) on the sidelines.
- Michael Carrick, Daley Blind and Memphis Depay will be pushing for recalls after dropping to the bench against Everton.
- David Silva (ankle) and Sergio Aguero (hamstring) lead City’s lengthy injury list. Fabian Delph (hamstring), Gael Clichy (ankle) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) are also out.
- Manuel Pellegrini would not confirm whether Vincent Kompany will be recalled for his first club start in six weeks.
- The Chilean also hinted that he could use Kevin De Bruyne as a striker at Old Trafford.
The Key Battle: Juan Mata vs Kevin De Bruyne
Two of the most creative players in the Premier League will go head to head on Sunday, as Spanish flair meets Belgian brilliance. They even used to play in the same team at Chelsea, who may regret letting the pair leave.
Juan Mata has started all nine league games for Manchester United and has five goals and six assists in all competitions, making him key to Louis van Gaal’s side. He also netted in this fixture last season and will be hoping to do so again as he continues to justify the hysteria that followed following his £37.1 million move from Chelsea in January 2014.
Another player who is living up to a big price tag is Kevin De Bruyne, who has become an instant success at Manchester City following his £55 million summer move from Wolfsburg. The 24 year old has five goals and four assists in all competitions, making up for the absences of the likes of Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
De Bruyne now has has 23 assists in 41 league appearances since the start of last season, more than any other player in the major European Leagues. Manuel Pellegrini has even hinted that he may start upfront on Sunday, and you wouldn’t want to bet against him scoring again.
Manchester United wins = 70 / Manchester City wins = 49 / Draws = 50
*According to Wikipedia
Last Meeting: Manchester United 4-2 Manchester City (12th April 2015)
Manchester United ended a dismal derby sequence and piled the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini as his Manchester City side were well beaten at Old Trafford. City, attempting to recover from successive away defeats at Liverpool, Burnley and Crystal Palace, made a blistering start and took an early lead through Sergio Aguero. It was all downhill from then on for the fading Premier League champions as Ashley Young and the revitalised Marouane Fellaini put United in front before half-time. Louis van Gaal’s side never looked like surrendering the advantage as they secured a sixth straight Premier League win with further goals from Juan Mata and Chris Smalling, meaning Aguero’s 89th minute strike was only a consolation. [BBC]
Louis van Gaal: “We have one day less [than Manchester City] to prepare so it’s more difficult. When you look at the facts they are first [in the league] so they are favourites, I think. I think for the fans it’s very emotional. I live in a little village and there it is also the talk of the town. I think in Manchester it is more. The champion is only in May. It’s a big step when we win, that’s true, but you also have to continue.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “I always say that it’s a match of six points because it is a match against a team that is behind you, but it is not a game that will decide the title this year. At this moment we are in a good moment, we are top of the league, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to do a better season than the last one. It’s important not to make the same mistakes and try to improve every game.”
The Referee – Mark Clattenburg
- Last Premier League game: Crystal Palace 1-3 West Ham United (17th October 2015) – 5 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Manchester United game: Southampton 2-3 Manchester United (20th September 2015) – 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Manchester City game: Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Manchester City (26th September 2015) – 6 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Stat of the Match
Manchester City have won six of the last eight Manchester derbies in the league, which is as many wins as they managed in the previous 42 meetings.
Where can I watch it?
The coverage of the game follows on from the Tyne-Wear derby on Sky Sports 1, beginning at 2pm with kick-off just five minutes later. Match of the Day 2 then has highlights on Sunday evening, and that is on at 10pm on BBC Two.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Manchester City
The Manchester derby has always been a high scoring fixture in recent seasons, with an average of 4.1 goals per game in the last ten minutes. Sticking with that trend, I think four goals will be scored again, and shared between the teams in a 2-2 draw. For United, I think that Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial will score, whilst I think Wilfried Bony and Kevin De Bruyne will be City’s goal-getters.