United look to spoil the Pep party – Manchester Derby preview


Derby day approaches in Manchester as the red of Manchester United prepare to battle the blue of Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday.

The two sides both come into the match off the back of impressive Champions League victories, with City convincingly seeing off Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0, whilst United became only the third side to beat Juventus at home in the Champions League since they moved into the Juventus Stadium with a 2-1 victory.

Pep Guardiola’s side come into this weekend top of the Premier League and still unbeaten after 11 games, while their red neighbours remain outside the top four sitting in seventh.

United will be looking to dampen spirits at the Etihad, just as they did in the same fixture last campaign when they recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and delay City’s title celebrations.

Jose Mourinho’s men have their work cut out to repeat that feat again as they face up to the Premier League’s best attack and defence. The Citizens have scored 33 and conceded just four so far this campaign, with Sergio Aguero level with Eden Hazard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on seven goals at the top of the scoring charts.

Manchester United are without a clean sheet in seven, but will be hoping they can build on three consecutive league victories as well as that impressive win in Turin.

Raheem Sterling has been involved in 11 goals in as many matches so far this season (six goals, five assists) (Photo: Manchester City)

Anthony Martial has been United’s star man this season and could join a host of Red Devil legends such as Wayne Rooney, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring in five consecutive Premier League games if he continues his fine form this weekend.

Guardiola has never lost consecutive matches against the same opponent in his managerial career and will be encouraged by his teams record against sides starting the day outside the top four, going unbeaten in their last 53 games (won 44, drawn nine).

The head-to-head record between the two gives encouragement to the Red Devils’ with 21 wins in contrast to City’s 13 although in the last five games the sides can’t be separated with two wins and a draw each.

City will certainly be without talisman Kevin De Bruyne as he continues to recover from a knee injury whilst Claudio Bravo (Achilles) joins him as a long-term absentee. The Premier League champions remain hopeful on the fitness of Nicolas Otamendi (muscle) and Ilkay Gundogan (hamstring) who could play a part in the fixture.

Jose Mourinho will be hoping to have both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, who have 168 Premier League goals between them, fit for the derby (Photo: Reuters)

It is hoped Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (muscle) may return to the side after picking up an injury in training last week. Elsewhere, United captain Antonio Valencia (muscle) remains unavailable along with summer signing Diogo Dalot which may see Ashley Young once again fill in at right-back.

Their biggest concern, however, will be the fitness of Alexis Sanchez who after being subbed off in Turin seemed to be holding his thigh. Sanchez, who arrived at Old Trafford in January from Arsenal, had impressed in last weekends victory over Bournemouth and would be expected to lead line again dependent on Lukaku’s fitness.

Prediction: Manchester City will be strong favourites for the tie, but with United now starting to pick up momentum the 43rd installment of the Manchester derby could prove to be a memorable one.

Manchester City 2 Manchester United 2


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