Wednesday night’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford has potential title-deciding significance. With just three game weeks left in the Premier League after this mouthwatering clash, it’s no exaggeration to say anything less than a win for Manchester City could cost them the title.
This is City’s game in hand on rivals Liverpool and their opportunity to move back into first place with a one-point advantage over the Merseysiders with just nine remaining points up for grabs for both teams.
Pep Guardiola’s side bounced back from the heartbreak of Champions League elimination to Tottenham, by beating the same opposition at the Etihad on Saturday. The victory extended City’s winning run in the league to ten games and the reigning champions have amassed some incredible stats in the process.
The Citizens have put together half time / full time doubles in eight of their last 12 away matches while they have led at the break in an unrivalled 24 of their 34 Premier League matches so far this season. Contrast that with Manchester United who have conceded first in five of their last 10 home matches against fellow ‘Big Six’ opposition, and there’s a big case to be made for City HT/FT on Wednesday night which is priced up at Even money.
Manchester United are in disarray at the moment, following the humiliation of a 4-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday. As shocking as the scoreline was, the manner of the performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men was even more disturbing. Few members of the playing staff have escaped criticism since and there must surely be a reaction from them in this derby clash.
The reality for United though is that even if they are much improved from that humbling at Goodison Park, City will likely still be too strong for them. The wheels have come off Solskjaer’s team in recent weeks with the Reds losing six of their last eight matches in all competitions.
Even using reliable performers like David De Gea have been guilty of errors of late and the Spaniard last keep a clean sheet in United’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool back in February, 11 games ago. With Sergio Aguero chasing a Golden Boot and City hellbent on defending their title, it’s hard to see United keeping the visitors at bay.
City have only failed to score in one of their last 14 away matches while United have conceded seven goals without reply in their last two outings.
This is a fixture that historically has produced goals. Few will need reminding of the 6-1 demolition City handed out at Old Trafford in 2011, while the blue half of Manchester asserted their dominance again in the 2013/14 season when they completed the double over United with 4-1 and 3-0 wins.
United gained revenge the following season with a 4-2 victory at Old Trafford but up until City’s 3-1 success in this fixture at the Etihad earlier this campaign, that was the only home win in the last eight Premier League meetings. City will fancy their chances of making that just two in nine on Wednesday night.
Sergio Aguero was withdrawn in the second of Saturday’s game against Spurs, presumably with this fixture in mind, and the Argentine is one goal shy of racking up another 20 in a Premier League season. If he achieves the feat, he’ll join Thierry Henry as the only two players to have reached this milestone in five consecutive top flight campaigns.
Few would bet against Aguero finding the net at Old Trafford and City leaving with another three points and one hand on the Premier League trophy.
Man Utd vs Man City team news
Defenders Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly remain out for United but they could welcome back Ashley Young and Ander Herrera to the starting lineup after both players were left out against Everton.
There are any number of contenders to be dropped after that thrashing at Goodison, but Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic look the most likely candidates.
For City, playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up against Tottenham. The club are awaiting confirmation on the extent of the problem but there are fears that the Belgian could miss the remainder of the season.
Benjamin Mendy is nearing full fitness and Guardiola will have to decide between the Frenchman or Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back.
Man Utd possible XI: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford.
Man City possible XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, Gundagon, D. Silva, B. Silva, Sterling, Aguero
Man Utd vs Man City form (most recent result last)
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