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Preview: Solskjaer seeking to do the league double over City; Martial, Ighalo and Fernandes to make their mark in the big game?

Manchester United -v- Manchester City

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 8 March 2020, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Darren Cann, Dan Robathan Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor 

VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will be back in Premier League action on Sunday afternoon, welcoming Manchester City to Old Trafford. Back in December, during a big week for United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side beat both City and Tottenham Hotspur in 2-1 scorelines, which was not something many expected to happen. United has faced City twice since then, losing 3-1 and winning 1-0 with both wins against City at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola’s side will come to the Theatre of Dreams full of confidence after winning the Carabao Cup for the third time in a row last weekend, which is not really a big bragging right considering most City fans did not treat it like it was a major trophy when they did not win it. But now, it seems to be something to brag about – how strange. United need to beat City at Old Trafford, which could see them do the double over them.

Form: United unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions with City unbeaten in their last five; United has won four and draw twice in the last six with City winning five and losing once.

Manchester United: WDWWDW

Derby County 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, Club Brugge 5-0 W, Watford 3-0 W, Club Brugge 1-1 D, Chelsea 2-0 W

Manchester City: WWWWWL

Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 W, Aston Villa 2-1 W, Real Madrid 2-1 W, Leicester City 1-0 W, West Ham United 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 L

Top Scorers: 75 goals scored in all competitions for United this season, which is not great but it is impressive considering the injuries and the lack of creativity for most of the season.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Marcus Rashford, 15 – Anthony Martial, 11 – Mason Greenwood, 4 – Scott McTominay, 3 – Bruno Fernandes, Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United are undefeated in their last nine matches, last losing 2-0 against Burnley at the end of January. Solskjaer’s side has scored 22 goals in all competitions in these nine matches, conceding two goals and keeping seven clean sheets – which shows improvement at the right part of the season. Now United need to keep chase on Chelsea to fight for a top four place in the Premier League this season to guarantee UEFA Champions League football next season and they still have two chances to get that.

Manchester City Goals: 23 – Sergio Agüero, 20 – Raheem Sterling, 18 – Gabriel Jesus, 9 – Riyad Mahrez, 7 – Bernardo Silva, 5 – Ilkay Gündogan, 4 – Rodri, 3 – Phil Foden, Nicolás Otamendi, David Silva, 1 – João Cancelo, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko

City seem to be well ahead of United, despite their own downfall this season – which was partly down to the way the club is run and has seen them banned from the Champions League for two seasons, although they will appeal. City may think they are the best thing since sliced bread but they sit 22 points behind Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand. That is not something to brag about. The big spenders have ben made to look inferior by Liverpool this season, even with the leaguer leaders spending less money – good for football?

Team News: Rashford, Pogba and Grant to miss City match, James, Maguire and Wan-Bissaka could be involved – Fosu-Mensah lacking match fitness; Laporte and Sane could miss out whereas De Bruyne could be back in time.

Solskjaer will be without Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Lee Grant our to injury. Daniel James has missed the last two matches, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed the last match – the trio could be involved in the squad to face City and the manager seemed optimistic this happening. Tim Fosu-Mensah lacks match fitness despite playing for the U23s in their victory over Stoke City at the start of the week.

When asked if Harry Maguire could be involved against City at Old Trafford on Sunday, Solskjaer said:

“Well, he’s touch and go because he rolled his ankle but, hopefully, he’ll recover quickly. I wasn’t going to rest him today, I didn’t give him a day off birthday-wise but I hope he’ll be fit.”

Solskjaer was asked whether Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be involved against City, saying:

“I hope so, yes, but none of them have been training yet since the last game, so we’ve got to look at them on Saturday probably because tomorrow is a recovery day.”

City will be without both Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane because of injury, however, Guardiola seems optimistic over the fitness of Kevin De Bruyne, who could be back for this fixture. City will be seeking to stop United from a Premier League double over them this season, winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi final first leg, a competition they won for the third time in three seasons last Sunday.

Predicted Starting XI: Martial and Ighalo leading the line against City with Fernandes just behind them? Could this be the way to do the double over the noisy neighbours?

Solskjaer could have problems ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby with three players as doubts; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Daniel James. I think both Wan-Bissaka and Maguire will start with James on the bench. United should have a strong team to face City with Bruno Fernandes pulling the strings in an attacking sense with Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic fortifying the midfield. Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo could cause the damage in front of goal to get the win.

Match Prediction: United have beaten City twice this season, both at the Etihad but in their last three matches against City at Old Trafford, United are winless and in need of a good result on Sunday.

United and City have played a total of 181 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1891. United have won 75 times, drawn 52 times and lost 54 times. This will be the fourth match between the two clubs this season; United have won twice, both at the Etihad, losing once, at Old Trafford. Solskjaer’s side could do a league double over City with a win in this match. United have lost their last three home matches against City.

In the reverse fixture which was played in December, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scoring the goals for United with a late consolation from Nicolás Otamendi. In the other match which United won, played in the Carabao Cup, it was a 1-0 victory with Nemanja Matić scoring the only goal of the game. The 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford, also in the Carabao Cup saw goals from Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal before Rashford’s consolation.

Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

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