Manchester United v Manchester City Cheat Sheet
Manchester United v Manchester City
The Premier League kicks off on Saturday afternoon with a tasty Manchester Derby at 12:30 as Manchester City travel to Old Trafford. Both teams are flying right now and have only lost one competitive game each since mid-October. For the home side, that loss came at Aston Villa and that has been the only defeat they’ve suffered since Manchester City beat them 6-3 at the Etihad earlier this season. They sit in fourth ahead of this round of fixtures and will believe that they can secure Champions League football for next season. The visitors are at risk of letting the Premier League title slip away from them and they currently sit five points behind Arsenal in second place. They cannot afford to drop points as regularly as they have done so far this season if they hope to retain their status as champions. However, Guardiola’s men may prioritise their first Champions League this season. Nevertheless, they will be desperate to beat their rivals for the fourth time in a row and complete the league double over them again.
Manchester United are flying right now and since their humiliating loss to Saturday’s opponents at the start of October, where they were 4-0 down by half-time, they have won all but three competitive games – drawing to Chelsea and Newcastle and losing to Aston Villa. Since the return of football following the World Cup, they have won all three games in the league without conceding a goal, have advanced to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup with wins over Burnley and Charlton, and reached the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-1 win over Everton. They sit in fourth with a game in hand over Newcastle and a win here would take them just one point behind their Manchester rivals in second. At home, their only loss came on the opening weekend of the season to Brighton and have since conceded just two league goals at Old Trafford, winning six of seven. Donny van de Beek and Axel Tuanzebe are confirmed absentees, and Jadon Sancho will probably miss out two. Diogo Dalot’s injury has been called “not serious” by ten Hag but he was taken off in the first half against Charlton so may miss out here. Bruno Fernandes was suspended for their midweek cup game but he is back available and should come straight back into the side. Dutch striker Wout Weghorst is close to signing but will not be available for Saturday afternoon, meaning Martial should start here once again.
Manchester City are once again embroiled in a title race at the top of the Premier League, where they sit five points behind Arsenal. Despite starting 2023 strongly with a league and cup double over Chelsea by an aggregate scoreline of 5-0, Guardiola will not have been pleased with the showing that they put out at Southampton in midweek which saw them bow out of the EFL Cup. That was the first domestic quarter-final the Spaniard had lost with Manchester City and they did not even record a shot on target for the first time since 2018. Whilst focus is surely on the Champions League this season, they cannot afford not to win now because they are five points behind Arsenal, who look too strong to drop many points right now. They have won each of their last two visits to Old Trafford 2-0 and will be hoping to complete the double for the second time in a row this season, even if confidence isn’t at its highest in the Cityzen camp. They remain without Ruben Dias who picked up an injury at the World Cup but John Stones is also a doubt coming into this one having missed the game against Southampton all together. Kevin de Bruyne, Rodri and Erling Haaland all did not start in midweek as Guardiola rotated but they will all come back in here as Manchester City’s star men.
Erling Haaland has been phenomenal since his move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. He has already scored a massive 21 league goals and is the top scoring player across all of Europe’s top five leagues, as well as five in four in the Champions League. Last time against Manchester United he scored three goals and had two assists from six shots, three of which were on target. The big Norwegian striker is on a drought by his standards, having not scored in 190 minutes of football and will be desperate to find the back of the net here. This two game spell is the first time he has not scored in back-to-back games since joining in the summer. He has had at least two shots on target on 14 occasions in just 27 starts for club and country this season, including a run for Manchester City in August and September where he had three shots on target in five consecutive matches.
Marcus Rashford has been in fine form for Erik ten Hag since the World Cup. He has scored at least one in each of the six games since the break, including two in just 31 minutes against Charlton in midweek. In that time he has had 17 shots, with 11 of those on target. The English forward has a decent record against Manchester City and has scored four goals against them but not in three years and he will be hoping to change that. Rashford scored three goals at the World Cup which has taken his overall number of goals up to 18 for the season. In all competitions, he has had a shot on target in 11 of his last 13 games – only failing to do so in 26-minute and 6-minute cameos against Senegal and France in the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Antony ranks amongst the highest number of shots taken per game in a Manchester United shirt this season. He averages 3.77 shots per 90 minutes as per the Cheat Sheet above, and this is no surprise by comparison to his Ajax numbers, where he had 4.50. 4.12 and 3.01 shots per game in his three seasons before leaving the Netherlands. For Manchester United, he has had at least two shots in each of his ten domestic starts, having at least three on seven of those occasions. His first two league games for the club were at home to Arsenal and at the Etihad. He scored in each of those, having eight shots with four on target in that spell. The Brazilian has also started to find form again, scoring in each of his last two games which will boost his confidence to shoot even more regularly.
Rodri is a vital part of this Manchester City team both defensively and going forward whilst transitioning. Without him, their midfield looked lost in the cup in midweek which goes to highlight just how important he is to the team. He has averaged at least one shot per 90 minutes in each of his last three seasons with the club and this season is averaging 1.62 shots per 90 in the league, scoring one goal. The Spaniard has started 25 games for his club this season, only failing to have at least shot in five of those. Rodri has also started eight games against the red half of Manchester and has had seven shots in those games, including four in his last four against them.
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