Preview: Manchester United need to beat City, not just to spoil the party but to kick on in the right direction under Jose Mourinho

Manchester City -v- Manchester United

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Premier League 2017/18

Saturday 7th April 2018; KO 17:30 GMT

Live on Sky Sports Premier League HD in the United Kingdom

Manchester United will be pitted against Manchester City in the Premier League at the Etihad on Saturday evening, the second Manchester derby of the season. Back in December, United lost 2-1 at Old Trafford with Marcus Rashford scoring either side of David Silva and Nicolás Otamendi. City soon took charge of their title run and today sit 16 points clear of United. The momentum of Pep Guardiola’s City side has been tremendous this season but they have lost more matches than they will want to remember. City’s first defeat came on the 6th December against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League, a 2-1 defeat in the group stage of the competition. City were then beaten in the league, a month later, a 4-3 defeat by Liverpool – a big message to Guardiola’s side.

Just over a month later, this time in the Emirates FA Cup, Guardiola’s side were beaten by a solo Will Grigg goal with Wigan Athletic knocking the club out of the domestic competition, the third time they have done so. City then lost their second match in the Champions League with Basel beating them 2-1, despite City winning 5-2 on aggregate, it still shows Guardiola’s side were not as good as the media were suggesting – the best team of the Premier League era – rubbish! Then fast forward to the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Anfield where Liverpool blew Guardiola’s side away, winning 3-0 with goals scored in the first 31 minutes of the match – City did not even have a single shot on target. Manchester City are a team that can be beaten – five defeats show that.

United, like the majority of the Premier League this season, have seemed scared of this City side. The media hype about the team seems to have been believed and United have backed off any challenge, which has seen them as second best in the derby, last winning in the league on the 20th March 2016 with a solitary Marcus Rashford strike in the 16th minute of the match gave United the victory. There was a derby in the EFL Cup last season, with United winning 1-0 through Juan Mata and at the Etihad last season, United left with a point following a 0-0 draw. With the fact that City has, in effect, already won the Premier League title this season, stopping their party against their rivals is something United need to do. Win at all costs and push the party to the following week.

Jose Mourinho was slated to taking his team to Anfield back in October and playing a tactical game which saw two chances, one for either side, earning a point in the 0-0 draw. Journalists, pundits, ABU’s and the like slated the Portuguese manager for his anti-football tactics, which were matched by Jurgen Klopp’s side, suggesting he was not an advocate of attacking football. Granted, the football this season has not been all that impressive, but football is a game of results and they have improved this season. Mourinho did say three years would be the amount of time he needed to change the direction of the club and the end of next season will be that amount of time. Beating City will not make this season much better but it will show some fighting spirit, which United lack.

Form: Manchester United have won five of their last six matches; Manchester City have lost two of their last six matches

Manchester United: WWLWWW – Swansea City 2-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 W, Sevilla 2-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 W, Crystal Palace 3-2 W, Chelsea 2-1 W

Manchester City: LWWLWW – Liverpool 3-0 L, Everton 3-1 W, Stoke City 2-0 W, Basel 2-1 L, Chelsea 1-0 W, Arsenal 3-0 W

Top Scorers (all competitions): Manchester United have scored 91 goals in all competitions; Manchester City have scored 124 goals in all competitions

Manchester United: 26 – Romelu Lukaku, 13 – Jesse Lingard, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 11 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Marouane Fellaini, 3 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, 2 – Own Goal, Nemanja Matic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, 1 – Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manchester City: 30 – Sergio Agüero, 21 – Raheem Sterling. 13 – Leroy Sané, 12 – Gabriel Jesus, 11 – Kevin De Bruyne, 9 – David Silva, 7 – Bernardo Silva, 5 – Nicolás Otamendi, 4 – İlkay Gündoğan, 3 – Fernandinho, John Stones, 2 – Danilo, Own Goal, 1 – Fabian Delph, Vincent Kompany

Previous Matches: Manchester United have beaten City 21 times more than they have beaten United, but this is a different game now!

Manchester United and Manchester City have played 175 matches in the history of both clubs – the first match being played on the 3rd October 1891 – a 5-1 FA Cup victory for United, Newton Heath back then. United have won a total of 72 matches, drawing 52 matches and losing 51 matches. The last defeat to City came at Old Trafford earlier this season, a 2-1 defeat with Marcus Rashford scoring United’s only goal, either side of the goals scored by David Silva and Nicolás Otamendi. Long gone are the days where United dominated their neighbours, going 16 matches without defeat; from the 3rd February 1990, a 1-1 draw, until the 21st April 2001, a 1-1 draw. A period which saw United score 30 goals, conceding 13 goals and keeping seven clean sheets. In the last ten matches, United have won three, drawn twice and lost five times.

Team News: Sergio Romero remains the only Manchester United player on the sidelines; Sergio Aguero is a doubt for Manchester City

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Ander Herrera have all recovered from injury and are at full fitness ahead of the Manchester derby. Daley Blind, who has also been on the sidelines for a long time, has returned to full fitness after recovering from his ankle injury. Sergio Romero, injured whilst playing for Argentina during the international break is the only United first team player on the sidelines through injury. During his press conference on Friday afternoon, the manager confirmed this by saying:

“Everybody is coming back but Sergio [Romero] is injured.”

Mourinho also gave an update on his side’s preparations ahead of the derby at the Etihad on Saturday evening, saying:

“It’s been a good week. I would say a normal week – no midweek match or Champions League for us, so more time to train. But a good normal week I would call it.”

After the 3-0 defeat in the Champions League to Liverpool on Tuesday evening, Pep Guardiola has a doubt in Sergio Aguero, who was missing midweek but could be boosted with John Stones and Fabian Delph, who were both unused substitutes in the defeat and could be back to face United. Benjamin Mendy, who has been out of action for the majority of the season will remain on the sidelines due to his injury.

Predicted Starting XI: Lukaku, Sanchez, and Martial to lead the line, Rashford to be brought on late to continue to threaten the ‘noisy neighbours’…

Predicted Score: Manchester United need the victory more than City but that doesn’t mean it will be easy…

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United

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copyright: JW

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