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The Manchester Derby Makes An Eagerly Awaited Early Appearance

Last updated: September 9, 2016 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Saturday, 12.30pm
Venue: Old Trafford
Coverage: Sky Sports 1
Home form: WWW
Away form: WWW
Last season: Man United 0 – 0 Man City
Competition: The Premier League

It might be early in the season but this one already has the feel of a season defining match. Both these teams were widely tipped to win the league before a ball was even kicked in the 2016/17 Premier League season and 3 games in both have done nothing to suggest otherwise. It’s a perfect 3 wins out of 3 for both Manchester United and Manchester City, but tomorrow, at least one team’s perfect record will come to an end. This Manchester derby is as anticipated as any prior.

The hosts will certainly be confident coming into the match. Home advantage, an in form Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a defence that has kept 2 clean sheets in 3 games all suggest a settled and balanced side. There are no real pressing concerns either. Fellaini is a doubt, but Mourinho has plenty of cover in that area, with either a direct swap for Herrera or Schneiderlin a possibility, or bringing Blind forward into that position and replacing him with Smalling at the back. All eyes will however be on the Red Devil’s attack. Ibrahimovic will be relishing the chance to score against the side of his former coach and nemesis, Pep Guardiola. Against a City defence that is yet to keep a clean sheet, this seems a distinct possibility.

Things are not quite so rosy on the other side of Manchester. Retrospective action of Sergio Agüero’s elbow on Winston Reid during the Citizen’s last competitive fixture has led to a 3 match ban, meaning the team’s top scorer will be absent from proceedings. Step up Raheem Sterling; the winger has been a different player so far under Guardiola and after a brace in the same match, goals from him, and his attacking partner Nolito, will be vital if City are to come away with a result. There are defensive issues too. Yet to keep a clean sheet, the City defence should be bolstered by new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, but there needs to be drastic improvements from all defenders. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are expected to start in the centre of defence to counteract the aerial threat offered by Ibrahimovic.


Team News

There are some doubts about the United line up. Marcus Rashford is pushing for inclusion in the starting 11 after scoring the winner at Hull last time out and impressing for the England U21 team midweek. Surely his time will soon come.

New signing Mkhitaryan might well have made his first start for the club in the derby. He picked up a slight knock during international action for Lithuania however and is a slight doubt for the match.

Agüero’s absence is the biggest factor for City. Guardiola could make a straight swap for Iheanacho, or Sterling could be moved into a false 9 position, with an extra winger. Navas or Sane, if fit, would be the obvious choices.

The saga between Guardiola and Joe Hart came to an abrupt end as the England goalkeeper was shipped off on loan to Torino. New signing Claudio Bravo could be in line to make his first start for the club, despite only joining up for first team training on Thursday.


Expected line-ups:

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Manchester City (4-2-3-1): de Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw, Blind, Pogba, Mata, Rooney, Martial, Ibrahimovic
Subs Romero, Smalling, Young, Rashford, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Schneiderlin
Injured:
Doubtful: Fellaini
Not available:
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Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Bravo, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Stones, Clichy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Nolito, Iheanacho, Sterling
Subs Caballero, Fernando, Navas, Delph, Kolarov, Maffeo, Sagna
Injured: Gundogan, Kompany
Doubtful: Sane
Not available: Agüero

So far this season

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Manchester United this season Manchester City this season
3rd League Position 1st
1 (2) (at home) Wins (away) 1 (2)
3-1 vs. Bournemouth Biggest win 4-1 vs. Stoke City
0 (at home) Draws (away) 0
Biggest Defeat
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (3) Top scorer Sergio Agüero (3)
Wayne Rooney & Anthony Martial (2) Assist Leader Raheem Sterling & Kevin De Bruyne (2)
Y4, R0 Discipline Y6, R0
0 Failures to score 0
2 Clean Sheets 0
1 Both Teams to Score Games 3
1 Over 2.5 Games 3
2 Under 2.5 Games 0
  • Manchester United have been clinical in front of goal. New signing Ibrahimovic has scored in 2 games, though he did fail to find the target in the last match against Hull. 
  • Manchester City remain unbeaten in the Premiership and are also the top scorers to boot. 
  • Unsurprinsingly under new manager Jose Mourinho, United have shown a new resolve at the back. From the first 3 games, they have kept 2 clean sheets. 
  • All their games so far have contained over 2.5 goals. While this shows that they are creating chances and scoring goals, they are also condeeding them, without a clean sheet in 3 games.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
3/20/2016 The Premier League Man City 0-1 Man United  Rashford 16′
10/25/2015 The Premier League Man United 0 – 0 Man City 
4/12/2015 The Premier League Man United 4 – 2 Man City Agüero 8′
11/2/2014 The Premier League Man City 1 -0 Man United Agüero 63′
3/25/2014 The Premier League Man United 0 – 3 Man City Dzeko 1′

Conclusion

This is certainly a tough one to call. City have been a shell of themselves at times in the past without Agüero and could therefore struggle to score. United themselves found it tough to break down Hull two weeks ago, with a 95th minute goal the only one in the match. However, getting some sort of revenge against his former coach is certainly high on Ibrahimovic’s bucket list. The Manchester derby, while always fiery, is often tight. Despite both teams scoring freely up to this point, Agüero’s absence, coupled with how tight the game could be, could mean a low scoring affair. Ibrahimovic anytime scorer coupled with under 2.5 goals has a great price at BetVictor.