Sunday 20th March – 16:00 – Etihad Stadium
They may not both be going for the Premier League title, but Sunday’s Manchester derby still holds huge significance for both City and United. It is of course Manuel Pellegrini’s side who still have hopes of lifting the trophy in May, but a 0-0 draw with strugglers Norwich City means that they begin the game 15 points off leaders Leicester with two games in hand. They did progress in the Champions League in midweek though, with another goalless stalemate against Dynamo Kiev enough to see them through to the quarter-finals on aggregate where they will face PSG. The Red Devils meanwhile, were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday by Liverpool, meaning that the FA Cup is their only chance of silverware this season. Sunday’s fixture gives them an opportunity to close the gap on City to one point if they win – the perfect response to losing 1-0 to West Brom last weekend. A defeat for either side is likely to mean their respective aims for the season won’t be reached, and for their local rivals to inflict that realisation would be the ultimate blow.
- The hosts will be without captain Vincent Kompany, who suffered a recurrence of a calf injury against Dynamo Kiev in midweek.
- Fellow defender Nicolas Otamendi, who picked up a dead leg in that game, will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s match.
- Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Fabian Delph (Achilles) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) are all long term absentees.
- Ander Herrera is a doubt with a groin problem that forced him to miss the Europa League clash with Liverpool.
- Ashley Young and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have both returned to training after injury and could feature.
- Will Keane (groin), Donald Love (hamstring), Wayne Rooney (knee) and Luke Shaw (leg) are all sidelined.
The Key Battle: Nicolas Otamendi vs Marcus Rashford
Nicolas Otamendi picked up a dead leg in City’s 0-0 draw against Dynamo Kiev in midweek, but should still be able to feature in the derby. If he does though, he is unlikely to be 100% fit, and if he doesn’t, then his replacement Martin Demichelis is unlikely to do a better job.
These possibilities present Manchester United with their best chance to win this game, and their attack will be spearheaded by teenage sensation Marcus Rashford.
The 18 year old broke onto the scene in stunning fashion at the end of February as he scored a brace against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League AND against Arsenal in the Premier League.
He has however, now gone five games without hitting the back of the net. Has he had his five minutes of game and will never be seen again? A goal in the derby of his home city, especially a winning goal, could make him go down in United folklore.
Manchester United wins = 70 / Manchester City wins = 49 / Draws = 51
*According to en.wikipedia.org
Last Meeting: Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City (25th October 2015)
Manchester United and Manchester City played out a dull deadlock in their derby at Old Trafford. City returned to the top of the Premier League ahead of Arsenal on goal difference – but there was little else to celebrate in a dire game devoid of attacking quality. What few chances there were fell to United. Substitute Jesse Lingard hit the bar late on and City keeper Joe Hart saved well from Chris Smalling. United defender Marcos Rojo and City’s Nicolas Otamendi were both outstanding as Old Trafford’s atmosphere was muted long before the final whistle. [Read full BBC report here]
Manuel Pellegrini: “A derby is always dangerous. It does not matter which positions the teams are in. In football when you have a mathematical chance, you cannot think you cannot do it. That is not a winning mind. You must always think you must do it. The more points you lose it’s more difficult, but you must have the mentality to win the next game, and after that you will see which team has the most points.”
Louis van Gaal: “I hope City is the catalyst. We have to beat City and we have a chance to still qualify [for the Champions League].”
The Referee – Michael Oliver
- Last Premier League game: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal (5th March 2016) – 5 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Manchester City game: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool (28th February 2016) – 10 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Manchester United game: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United (7th February 2016) – 3 yellow cards, o red cards
2015-16 Record: Games = 29 / Yellow cards = 110 / Red cards = 9 / Penalties = 9
Infographic (courtesy of Sporticos)
Stat of the Match
United have taken just one point from a possible nine in their last three away games, losing to both Sunderland and West Brom.
Where Can I Watch It?
The game follows the Tyne-Wear derby on Sky Sports 1 from 3:30pm, with kick-off half an hour later. The highlights will then be on BBC One’s Match of the Day 2 that evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United
I’m not sure how much desire this Manchester United side has, but I don’t think they’re capable of beating their rivals on Sunday, all but ending their hopes of Champions League football next season. There is goals in the youthful Red Devils side though, and Anthony Martial could give the visitors the lead. But City will fight back through goals from Sergio Aguero and David Silva to claim a vital win.