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Preview: Could Manchester United do the impossible again and show City that they might be down but not out?

Manchester City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Sunday 11 November 2018; KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Manchester United face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, the biggest match of the season so far. It has been a good week for United after beating Bournemouth 2-1, after going behind then doing the same against Juventus after Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opening goal, winning 2-1 again. A result against City this weekend would be the end of a great week, leading into the final international break of 2018.

City fans have been building this match up, with United being their biggest rivals. However, City are not seen as United’s main rivals – the rivalry with Liverpool is much bigger. Currently, United sit in seventh place in the Premier League, but with them playing the final game of the weekend, that will change before kick off on Sunday. There are nine points between United and City, which could be twelve, six or nine at full-time. United will want it to be six.

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Pre-Match Thoughts: This is going to be a big match for United, even after a positive week with victories at Bournemouth and Juventus

The last week has shown United’s character this season. After a poor start to the Premier League, Carabao Cup and two poor results in the UEFA Champions League, United have started to find themselves. The defence is still not as good as it could be but the players are dealing with that and pushing on. The attack could be much better with Romelu Lukaku in a tough goal drought for his club and suffering with injury, although he did return to training on Friday.

Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba have been suggested (by the media) as doubts, which could be worrying, although United have players to step into the positions of the two players if need be. Matches against Manchester City are not the biggest ones for United, in terms of rivals but since the oil money came to the blue side of Manchester, the derby has been a big fixture as United have been on the receiving end of a beating more times than not. United are unbeaten at the Etihad in their last three visits.

In the last ten fixtures, in all competitions, United won four, City won four, with two draws, so looking at that and the visible gap between the two teams over the past few seasons, that does not look so bad on a head-to-head level. United have scored 11 goals, conceded 12 goals, keeping four clean sheets. This could be a good time to face City, despite them scoring 12 goals in their last two matches, United are confident, seem to be able to win matches now, but this will be a big test.

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Team News: No new injuries although United have some ‘touches’ to overcome

Jose Mourinho seemingly shrugged away concerns of any major injuries ahead of the Manchester derby. Alexis Sanchez was said to have a knock after the Juventus game. Also, Paul Pogba did not train with his teammates during Friday’s session, working inside on his own instead. Mourinho said that there were no new injury concerns but there were touches which could see him rotate his side. Romelu Lukaku trained on Friday, meaning he could be in contention on Sunday. Mourinho said:

“No new injuries. So from Juventus, we don’t bring important injuries. We have ‘touches’ but I don’t think any player that was available for Juventus will be out. We have a chance – it is Friday morning now – that Lukaku could be back.”

Pep Guardiola will be without Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi and Ilkay Gundogan are cutting it fine to be fit for the derby. Claudio Bravo and Eliaquim Mangala are on the sidelines for the long-term, which probably will not add many problems for Guardiola’s side. Last season’s 3-2 defeat to United may be fresh in the memories of Guardiola and his team with the City manager saying:

“Last season we lost, but every game is a new history and a new chapter. We realise how strong United are. When they dominate and create chances they win easily, but you can have the feeling you are in control and they can still punish you. It’s Manchester United – with Liverpool, they are one of the strongest teams in England’s history. I hope it can be a good derby and we can enjoy watching it.”

Predicted Starting XI: A strong lineup for United with strength-in-depth on the bench?

United have plenty of options to face City ahead of the international break. Two wins in the last week, coming from behind will boost Jose Mourinho’s side. The defence will most likely be the same with Ashley Young, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, and Luke Shaw playing in front of David De Gea. A midfield three of Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, and Paul Pogba may help contend with City’s midfield and attack with a forward three of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford seeking the goals.

Match Prediction: 2-1 seems to be the scoreline for United recently. Can they overcome City the same way they did with Bournemouth and Juventus?

United had a great week coming from behind against both Bournemouth and Juventus away from home. It was suggested that United would not be able to bet a result in Turin, which seemed to come out of the blue. That mentality from United at City would be great to see. Last season in this fixture, United did the impossible, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Something like that at this stage of the season would be great to see.

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United

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