|Image from Sky Sports|
Teams: Manchester United vs Manchester City
Location: Old Trafford
KO: Wednesday 24th April 20:00 GMT (Live on Sky Sports)
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola
Referee: Andre Marriner
What form are both teams in?
Both Manchester teams suffered European setbacks after United lost poorly against Barcelona with a 4-0 aggregate and Manchester City lost on away goals to Tottenham after a thrilling 4-3 result at the Ethiad in a game rife with VAR controversies. But while Manchester City pressed on and beat Spurs at the Ethiad on Saturday, United fell further after an awful, AWFUL performance against Everton as they slumped to a 4-0 loss with each goal conceded a result of worsening defending as the game went on. While Manchester City hope for similar fortunes to Everton, United must snap out of this nightmare and finally bounce back against their bitter rivals.
United: LLWLL GF: 3 GA: 11
City: WLWWW GF: 9 GA: 5
How does this game affect the league standings?
As I mentioned earlier, a win for City would almost certainly seal the title for Pep's team as United are their most difficult opponent left to face with Burnley, Brighton and Leicester all to come and with this being the game in hand against Liverpool, a win would see Man City remain at the top of the table until both teams play this weekend. As for United, the situation is a little more complex. With Tottenham playing Brighton tonight and Arsenal travelling to Wolves tomorrow, United could leapfrog the Gunners with a win if Arsenal lose and be level on points with Chelsea, who drew to Burnley at Stamford Bridge yesterday and Spurs if Brighton beat the odds and win tonight. A draw will keep United at sixth regardless of the other results but would see City remain under Liverpool by a point. A loss would almost certainly cement United to sixth place until the end of the season unless miracles occur with the London teams' results.
Luke Shaw is back after a two game suspension or his ten yellow cards this season and hopefully United will play with a conventional back four and Dalot in his natural position of right back. Jones came off for the second half and looked injured so Smalling and Lindelof should return to their decent centre back partnership. Herrera was back in training and so could start on the bench for the derby, Bailly and Valencia remain injured and might be so for the rest of the season.
As for Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne's season looks over after a nasty injury against Tottenham in the first half and the Belgian came off for Ilkay Gundogan early on. The only other City injury is Fabian Delph but with Danilo and Ben Mendy both fit, he shouldn't be missed too much.
- Manchester United haven't lost twice to City in one season since losing both games under David Moyes in 2013/14 since then United have played City ten times competetively, winning four games, losing four and drawing twice.
- Alexis Sanchez has scored thrice against Manchester City and was pivotal in the 3-2 comeback last year, there is one player who has the same number of goals against City - Chris Smalling who won the derby last year.
- Sergio Aguero on the other hand, scored City's second earlier this season, has scored nine times against United but had not scored against United since 2015 prior to November.
- In the 3-1 derby game, Lukaku came on with 35 minutes to go, Sanchez came on with 17 minutes to go and Phil Foden came on in the 92nd minute. Foden had more touches and successful passes than the other two United players combined.
- If City score, Manchester United will remain without a clean sheet since 24th of February against Liverpool.
- David de Gea has played Manchester City seventeen times and has conceded 32 goals in that time, even if you exclude the 6-1 match, the Spaniard has not conceded more to any other club in his career.
Team Selection and Predicition
De Gea will start and hopefully as captain again as Young should not play in a higb profile game like this, last year he could have lost us the game with a penalty and red card but was very lucky and realistically with Shaw back he should have no chance/reason to play or be on the bench with a better defender in Darmian able to play anywhere in the back line. Lindelof and Smalling should make the two centre back roles with Jones and Bailly injured. Matic should stay on the bench as he has been poor for some time now and Fred was equally average but against City could be important with his energy and high pressing. McTominay also needs to start as he will bully Silva and Gundogan in City's midfield and is stronger than the lot of them. Pogba will start as he did at least try against Everton but there was no co-ordination so he failed to make an impact. As for the attackers, sigh...
Lukaku was poor and will not trouble either Kompany or Laporte I think Sanchez should start and at least play on the right to trouble Mendy or Danilo with his energy and trickery, Martial was a bit idle against Everton but is the most composed finisher in the team and so should start but needs to be urged to take more players on instead of cutting in too early. As for the striking option, I have to go with some of my fellow fans and suggest Greenwood. I am sick and tired of seeing Rashford hit corners, freekicks and 40-yard efforts wide of goal because he is in space, he needs a reality check now. It was ok having a go when you are 2-0 up and it's worth a try but not when you are trying to win a tight game - I am done waiting for his Ronaldo moment.
As for the result I am not sure. If the United team that played on Sunday turn up, it could be 10-0 as City will not let up and show mercy, they want this league and they won't hesitate to show it. If Solskjaer kicks this team into shape, makes them work hard for the fans, for him, for the club and all it has meant since it was founded, then United have a chance to bounce back with pride. The first goal in this game is key as if City get it then they will pass United to death as Barca did. If United get it then they can sit deep and hit City on a counter as their full backs are still their weakest points. Again I remain optimistic United can turn it around but I'm running out of it and fast.
Predicted team: De Gea, Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Alexis, Martial, Greenwood
PREDICTED SCORE: 2-1 to United