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Manchester United vs Manchester City Preview

Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils welcome Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Man City to Old Trafford this Sunday.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils welcome Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Man City to Old Trafford this Sunday.
English Premier League | Sunday 10 December | Old Trafford | 18:30

Manchester will be divided once more as Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils welcome Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Manchester City to Old Trafford this Sunday. For United, along with the rest of the Premier League, it’s been all about closing the gap this season, with City dominating the league, commanding an eight-point advantage over second-placed, United. A win for Mourinho’s men would cut City’s lead to five points, while a loss could see them as much as 11 points behind with more than half the season still to play. Both clubs have been at the top of the league, but just who are the true kings of Manchester?

To Win (90 mins)
Manchester United 23/10
Draw 5/2
Manchester City 11/10

Manchester United

The Red Devils head into the Manchester derby high in confidence, enjoying a run of four straight wins in the Premier League. United have been superb this campaign and come off the back of an impressive 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal.

One negative thing about the Arsenal game is that star talisman, Paul Pogba, will miss the clash after a dangerous tackle on Hector Bellerin. The Frenchman recently faced a spell on the sidelines through injury and it negatively affected Jose Mourinho’s men.

The term ‘shift in power’ has been thrown around a lot lately, but with a club of Manchester United’s size and stature, it will take more than just a few good seasons and glamourous football to surpass them.

Although they’ve beaten Manchester City just twice at home in the last seven meetings, United look a different force under Mourinho. The mastermind tactician has been accused of playing boring, unattractive football, however, his team have scored 35 league goals – only bettered by their crosstown rivals.

The driving force behind their attack has been Pogba, but with the 24-year old out suspended, United could rely on the likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, not to mention Jesse Lingard, who has thrived in the new 3-4-2-1 formation.

With all that quality going forward, they still have arguably the world’s best goalkeeper in David De Gea. Despite conceding 33 shots on goal last weekend, the Spanish shot-stopper denied 14 attempts, equalling a new Premier League record.

Mourinho is likely to go with his usual cautious approach and keep things tight, however, against a side like Man City, you need to win your midfield battles. Unfortunately, the Red Devils will be Pogba-less in their battle to do so.

Manchester City

In just his second season, Pep Guardiola has managed to transform Manchester City into one of Europe’s most feared sides, while it’s even safe to say that he is showing the dominance he once did in the Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga.

The Citizens have won 14 of their 15 matches, drawing just once – to Everton – while they’re yet to be on the losing side. Both Manchester clubs are known for scoring late goals this season, however, Man United have turned 1-0’s into 4-0’s, while Man City turned hard-fought draws into wins, showing signs of being true champions.

Despite witnessing Man United put three past Arsenal, they still allowed 33 shots at their goal and 14 on target. No disrespect to the Gunners, but City are a different kettle of fish. They need as little as one chance to hurt you, let alone 33.

I would have loved to have seen Pogba up against my personal favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award, Kevin De Bruyne, but it seems we have to wait a few months to have any hope of witnessing that battle.

De Bruyne came out and spoke on how the Citizens will approach the game, regardless of how United set up.

“We’ll play the same there,” said the Belgian playmaker.

“We never change. We try to do the things we’re good at. That gives us the best chance to win.”

“We want do to what we always do, try to play our style, put them under pressure and see where it goes from there. We want to try to dominate the ball, so we just look at ourselves,” he concluded.

City have no players off form at the moment and can call upon anybody to fulfil the task at hand. Along with De Bruyne, they have David Silva and Sergio Aguero, who are recognized as one of the best players in the club’s history, while Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane have been menacing down the flanks this season.

Probable line-ups:

Manchester United: 3-4-2-1
De Gea; Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Matic, Herrera, Young; Lingard, Martial; Lukaku.

Manchester City: 4-5-1
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Delph; Sterling, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Aguero

Prediction: Manchester City (11/10)
Manchester City have been superb this season, especially away from home, where they’ve been perfect, winning all seven of their games. Without Pogba, United are a different team, and although Mourinho will not be humiliated, you cannot allow a team like Man City to attack you. The likes of De Bruyne, Silva and Aguero should be too much for De Gea and United to cope with. I’m backing City to stretch their lead to 11 points at the top of the table with a win at Old Trafford.

Written by Jesse Nagel. Follow him on Twitter here!