It is Derby Day in Manchester as the cities two premier football sides go head to head in a game that has the potential to be huge for both sides in terms of meeting their season targets.
Defending champions, and blue half of Manchester, City will be hoping to boost their title hopes with a win over their local rivals. They currently sit third in the table behind Brendan Rodgers’ high flying Leicester City and Jurgen Klopp’s seemingly unstoppable Liverpool.
The Citizens find themselves 11 points behind paces setter Liverpool (yes 11 points after 15 games) and a win over United could see them gain some much-needed momentum after a 2-2 draw against Newcastle and a loss to Liverpool at Anfield. Sandwiched in between the two disappointing results was a 2-1 win over Chelsea so it is not all doom and gloom for Pep Guardiola’s side.
However, a win over Manchester United could really kick start their festive period, with each game now vital for the Sky Blues if they want to mount some kind of pressure on Liverpool.
On the flip side, Manchester United find themselves 8 points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea. The focus this season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side must be to achieve Champions League football for next season.
A win for United at the Etihad could see them move above Wolves who sit directly above them in 5th.
Coming off the back of a huge victory at home to Tottenham in midweek could prove a real launching pad for an assault on the top four. Previous Premier League results for United saw them record two draws against two newly promoted sides, Sheffield United and Aston Villa.
United’s record at Manchester City in recent times has been good. Last season they lost 3-1 but before that, they recorded a 3-2 win in 2018, a 0-0 draw in 2017 and a 1-0 win in 2016.
The Red Devil’s were without number 9 Anthony Martial in midweek against Tottenham and it looks as if they may see him return.
“We hope to have Anthony, definitely, for part of the game. I am not sure he is able to start,” said Ole.
Paul Pogba is expected to play no part in the game as he is still recovering from an ankle injury. This will only further fuel speculation that the French World Cup winner will be looking to move away from Old Trafford at the nearest possible opportunity.
City have a few players missing. Long-time prolific goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out with Gabriel Jesus more than likely to start in his absence.
Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte will miss the game and neither player is expected back until the new year. Oleksandr Zinchenko is back in training but it is unknown if he will be available for Derby Day.
Ilkay Gundogan is back from serving a one-game suspension and will potentially start.
Guardiola commented on the game, “It’s Man United; I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have a huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them.”