Match Preview: Manchester United vs Manchester City
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Time: 9:05 am JA
A match between two contenders and two rivals, the Manchester derby promises to be every bit as intense and tense as we have come to know in recent years. City go into the encounter short-staffed where it would appear to hurt most but that might only serve to make it a more competitive and interesting affair.
On one hand we have City who, in all likelihood, must now go into their second match without their best two players, David Silva and Sergio Agüero, although Silva could return. In truth, this represents what they must have anticipated as a real possibility going into this season. Both players aren’t exactly known for their fitness records and this is partly why both have not garnered even more acclaim. Indeed, Silva has played only 79.8% of Premier league in the last three completed EPL seasons. Aguero has played only 75.4% or just over three quarters. We won’t even count the times he has been forced off after 10, 20 and even five minutes. They are important players to the City cause and will be missed. Luckily for City, they are more than Kun Agüero and Merlin. Wilfried Bony has filled in admirably thus far, grabbing a brace against promoted Bournemouth. One might say that it wasn’t exactly an acid test but it was a welcome return to the goalscorers list for the burly Ivorian. Raheem Sterling also grabbed the bull by the horns and proceeded to record his first ever Premier League hat-trick after the weight of criticism had just begun to tilt against him. Good for the talented Englishman. Then there is the continued brilliant start to life in Manchester for Kevin De Bruyne. He has made his mark, scoring five times and assisting the same amount in only eight matches. City are by no means short in attack. How will the support hold up?
Manchester United have overcome a shaky start that led to numerous questions being raised. However, through part luck and part eventual realisation, Ander Herrera has finally gotten a run in the team befitting of his contribution. Also, Anthony Martial has hit the ground running and showed why the seemingly crazy investment was made. His form has somewhat compensated for what is still a woefully out of form Wayne Rooney. United are solid at the back and that may be an area in which they slightly edge City at the moment. What will determine the game’s outcome are the tactical decisions made by both managers. Both are prone to making odd decisions but both have seen them come off at times. This is an interesting one and one that will be too close to call. Oddly enough recent encounters have not been close but that trend should be broken on Sunday.
Manchester City: Hart; Sagna, Otamendi, Kompany, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Touré; Navas, De Bruyne, Sterling; Bony
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin; Martial, Herrera, Mata; Rooney
Last five meetings
Wins: Manchester United 1 Manchester City 4
Goals: Manchester United 6 Manchester City 11
Manchester United 2 Manchester City 2
There are several key battles which will determine the balance of play and one such is Sterling vs Darmian. Darmian has looked susceptible against speed and skill and it will be perhaps his greatest test to come up against the Jamaican born Sterling who must be high on confidence after Bournemouth. Keeping both Sterling and the marauding Kolarov quiet will be quite the test for Darmian. Another is Martial against Zabaleta/Sagna as the young French striker will provide a test and be tested by either of the two best right backs in the league.
United have done it without any real help from the captain thus far but they might just need Wayne Rooney to show that there is still a player in there. Herrera must be at the peak of his powers and may be a surprise to City who might get caught up in the hype of Martial and forget about the unassuming Spaniard.
This match, however it shapes up, is never short on goals. Expect both teams to open up for this one and it’s very difficult to envision a tight game.