United Travel to Their Noisy Neighbours
Last updated: March 4, 2021 by Leon Marshal
|Last Meeting:||Man United 0 – 0 Man City|
City could place a finger on the Premier League trophy with a victory over their nearest challengers. A win against United would see the gap between the clubs increase to seventeen points with just ten left to play. Can Ole’s team give City the blues?
The Manchester clubs have been the dominant teams this season, occupying the table’s top two spots. The experienced Pep Guardiola has made the Citizens more successful than the Red Devils and currently are on course for a third title in four years. Manchester United has lost pace in the title race and now has to scramble to cement their place in the top four.
Man City have the best record against the top six this season, winning five, drawing twice, and losing just once in the eight they have played. The defeat came at the hands of Tottenham back in November; incidentally, this was the last time they lost a match and were in position fourteen at the time. Since then, they have been unplayable, only dropping points against West Brom and their visitors in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford. They have won each of the last twenty-one games scoring fifty-five goals, and conceded just eight goals in this winning run. Unsurprisingly, they have equalled Arsenal’s record of nineteen games without trailing at any point.
The Citizens are on course for a quadruple, having taken control of their last-16 Champions League tie against Borussia Monchengladbach (2-0), quarter-finals of the FA Cup (Everton), and are in the League Cup’s final (Tottenham). They extended their lead to fourteen points defeating Wolves 4 – 1 to take advantage of Manchester United and Leicester City draws over the weekend. United also lost further ground with a draw in mid-week. Pep Guardiola’s team are the only ones who have shown the desire to win the Premier League with no other side looking capable of reeling them back in.
Ruben Dias is the uncelebrated maestro in the Manchester City team. A potential contender for the PFA Player of the year award, with his immediate influence being compared to Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk. He has played a pivotal role in the side, which boasts the best defensive record with fifteen shutouts, and the team has conceded just seventeen goals this season. Another defender also worthy of mention is Joao Cancelo, who became the most expensive right-back when he joined in a deal worth £60m in 2019 (£27.4m + Danilo). The 26-year-old has been undroppable in how the team plays this season. The resounding defensive masterclass by City attributable, in part at least, to his deployment as a full-back, occasionally filling in as an auxiliary midfielder giving the defence a stable shape when they lose possession.
This City side’s depth is incredible, with the manager making seventy-nine changes throughout the campaign, but they are still dominating play and keep winning games. With so much dominance domestically, it’s about time Manchester City rallied to win the Champions League for the first time. Their decorated manager has not won the elite competition since he left Barcelona and will be hungry to get his hands on Europe’s biggest prize to ensure his legacy.
Just 4.3 miles down the road at Old Trafford, neighbours United appear to have hit a brick wall. It is well documented their tepid performances against the ‘big-six’, which continued at the weekend with a 0-0 bore-draw against Chelsea, who, like United, have Champions League qualification as their goal in the league. It was a lost opportunity for the Red Devils, who could have increased the gap between the two sides to nine points. Last season, third and fourth place were not decided until the final day, and we could see a repeat of this scenario this year with the battle for European qualification going to the wire.
Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s conservative approach to big games is evident. They have played Arsenal and Chelsea twice, plus Liverpool and Manchester City, without winning nor scoring in any of those six games. Their only goal came in the 6 – 1 defeat to Tottenham from the penalty spot, and the last four consecutive games against the heavyweights have been goalless draws. In seven games, they have scored one, conceded seven, and accumulated five points from the possible twenty-one. Their last goal from open play against the ‘big boys’ was almost a year to the day of this game. On 8th March 2020, they scored two (Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay) in a 2-0 win against this weekend’s opponents. Their undisputedly talented squad tends to underperform against high calibre opponents, most significantly Bruno Fernandes. He has scored fifteen goals and provided ten assists this campaign but hasn’t replicated his scintillating form in the biggest of games.
Worryingly for fans from the red side of Manchester, they lost further ground against their neighbours with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with 13th placed Crystal Palace on Wednesday, United’s third 0-0 in a row in the league. The two points dropped made worse since Palace were missing their best player Wilfred Zaha and the London club have struggled in his absence (just one win since he’s been out of the squad). Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville accused his former club of “sleepwalking” and said they risked being dragged into a top-four race. Edison Cavani returned to the side after recovering from a muscle injury. The 34-year old, who has seven goals to his name, was unable to make an impact, and it is telling that Nemanja Matic had a better chance than the Uruguayan had all night. It could have been even worse for United; Dean Henderson made a good save at the end of the game to deny Patrick van Aanholt.
It may be perhaps too simplistic to blame Paul Pogba’s absence for United’s stale form, but you feel that this game is one in which the Frenchman could have made the difference for United in. The 27-year-old is out with a thigh injury and will be out for at least another week. Anthony Martial is also a doubt, and regular goalkeeper David De Gea, who missed the game against Crystal Palace, may also be missing due to personal reasons.
Man City are on a rampant twenty-one games winning streak at the top of the table.
Nathan Aké is the only injury for City, although Sergio Agüero is likely to be on the bench.
In the absence of Edison Cavani, United have scored just one goal in four games.
The Red Devils will be looking for a first win against the top six, drawing the last four consecutive games against the elites.
|Man City (3-2-4-1):||Ederson, Zinchenko, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus|
|Subs:||Steffen, Stones, B. Silva, Foden, Garcia, Walker, Garcia, Fernandinho, Mendy, Aguero, Torres|
|Manchester United (4-3-3):||Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, James, Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani|
|Subs:||Greenwood, Tuanzebe, Telles, Diallo, Bailly, Dalot, McTominay, Matic, Beek|
|Injured:||Jones, Pogba, Mata|
|Doubtful:||De Gea, Martial|
So Far This Season
|Man City This Season||Man United This Season|
|20 (9)||Wins (away)||14 (8)|
|5 – 0 v Burnley||Biggest Win||9 – 0 v Southampton|
|5 (3)||Draws (away)||8 (5)|
|2 – 5 v Leicester City||Biggest Defeat||1 – 6 v Spurs|
|Gundogan (11)||Top Goal Scorer||Fernandes (15)|
|Y29, R0||Discipline||Y41, R1|
|2||Failures to Score||6|
|41%||Both Teams to Score Games||16%|
|41%||Over 2.5 Goals||62%|
|59%||Under 2.5 Goals||38%|
- The two sides have met 47 times; United dominating the derby with 23 wins against City’s 15 wins and nine draws between them.
- The Red Devils need a win to keep a positive chase on the runaway league leaders and end their poor spell against the top six opposition.
- Man City was on a twenty-one game-winning run when they lost 2 – 0 against Tottenham hotspur.
- Man United stars have failed to turn up against competitive opposition while Man City have played without their attacker Aguero and Jesus for a big chunk of the season.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|12/12/2020||EPL||Man United 0 – 0 Man City||—|
|08/03/2020||EPL||Man United 2 – 0 Man City||Martial 30’|
|29/01/2020||Capital One||Man City 0 – 1 Man United||Matic 35’|
|07/01/2020||Capital One||Man United 1 – 3 Man City||B.Silva 17’|
|07/12/2019||EPL||Man City 1 – 2 Man United||Martial 29’|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
Manchester City’s march to the title has been nothing short of spectacular. Looking like a club in crisis early in the season, they simply look unbeatable at the moment. Winning this game won’t give the title to City just yet, but with easier looking games on the horizon, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them claim the title by the end of this month, especially if rivals continue to drop points.
The Red Devils are unbeaten on the road in eighteen Premier League games, the longest run in the club’s history, and they did the double over City last year. In the reverse fixture this season, the game was drawn 0-0 and their game plan this time out is likely to be to frustrate City and hit them on the counter-attack. Whether they can maintain this for ninety minutes seems doubtful with the City side’s quality. A draw would be a good result for United.
We cannot see past a City victory here that will end United’s great away run. Raheem Sterling has a poor record against United, but City has players all over the pitch that can hurt United, Ilkay Gündogan, for example. We are going for a fairly routine 2-0 win for City available @ 15/2 with bet365. Gündogan to score any time @ 7/5 also appeals.