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Preview: United aiming to beat City to break into top four

Manchester City -v- Manchester United

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Premier League 2016/17

Thursday 27th April 2017; KO 20:00 BST

Live on Sky Sports 1HD

Manchester United visit the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening to face Manchester City in the Premier League, the second and final Manchester derby this season. Last time out in the league, at Old Trafford, City beat United 2-1 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring the only goal for United. The two sides were drawn in the fourth round of the EFL Cup with Juan Mata scoring the only goal of the match, sending United through in a competition they beat Southampton in the final at Wembley in February. This season, despite United’s inability to break into the top four of the Premier League, they have not done all that badly. Yes, there have been many draws which should have been victories, but 23 matches in the league undefeated is not something to poke fun at. United may find it hard, at times, to win matches, but their opposition have found it hard to beat them. Chelsea were the last team to beat United and that was at the tail end of October.

Pep Guardiola was lauded as the best manager in the world ahead of becoming the City manager, but this season he ousted him as the fraud that many have suggested he is. Inheriting a decent side at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, this City side has shown him for the poor manager he is. The excuses are funny but the media are not poking fun at the Catalan, instead, lauding him as the man who needed more than one season to show what he can do – which was not what was being said in July 2016. Guardiola will finish the season failing to win any trophy this season, Jose Mourinho has one, two if you could the FA Community Shield alongside the EFL Cup and his side is still in with a chance, albeit 25% at this moment in time, of winning the UEFA Europa League this season, which will define the season as a success, especially after the previous three after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester City were said to have had the better team at the start of the season, spending a fortune on a poor defender – John Stones, which marks a hell of a lot being spent over the past few years in trying to shore up City’s defence.

City, though, are much better than United. Worlds apart! The extra point they have in the league and the extra two goals scored show the massive distance between the two clubs. I mean look how amazing Manchester City really are. Inability to sell out their home stadium more often than not, inability to sell out their allocation for an Emirates FA Cup semi-final, which saw them beaten by Arsenal in extra time, inability to get further than the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, yes, you got there, United didn’t, but they are still in Europe. All under the leg-end that is Pep Guardiola. He was lauded as the best manager in the world. Even the match-fixer Antonio Conte is likely to win more than the Spaniard. Best in the world? Don’t make me laugh. Manchester City are a piss pot club relying on Arabian oil money in order to continue their impression of a big club. If United beat them on Thursday and end up finishing in the top four at their expense, Guardiola will have failed.

Ander Herrera, one of United’s most improved players this season, one who is also supported by the clubs fans to become the captain of the club, should Wayne Rooney leave in the summer, or should Mourinho seek a new captain next season. The Spanish midfielder showed his passion ahead of Thursday’s Manchester derby, saying:

“It’s going to be the game of the season. We are one point behind them and if we win, we have the chance to finish in the top four, but if they win, it will be very difficult for us. I don’t know the ‘winner takes all’ expression but it’s going to be a massive game. If one of us wins it, we are not going to lose a lot of games or make mistakes after that. It will be key. We are in a very good moment, on a very good run and we respect them, but we are doing a lot of good things and we have to show it on Thursday.”

United have a big month of matches coming up. April will have thrown nine matches in their direction by Sunday’s visit of Swansea City to Old Trafford, but another six will be playable in May, a seventh possible. Manchester United may not be back to their best, yet, but boy have they done well this season, restoring their confidence, showing what they are capable of, which if all works well in the summer, the start of next season could see United competing with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and somewhat Liverpool for the Premier League crown next season. I would add Arsenal there, but this season has shown that their problems have only just begun. Come on UNITED!

Match Officials: Martin Atkinson to officiate the Manchester derby – this should be fun!

Martin Atkinson will officiate the match at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening, his 24th match in the Premier League this season, his fourth involving Manchester United this season. Atkinson oversaw the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, the 3-1 victory over Sunderland, and the 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers. A total of five yellow cards were shown to United players in those three matches. Atkinson has issued 80 yellow cards in the league this season, sending off two players with second yellow cards, not yet showing a straight red card this season. The assistant referees have been named as Stuart Burt and Adam Nunn. The fourth official will be Neil Swarbrick.

Form: Manchester United unbeaten in 23 straight Premier League matches – 24 anyone?

Manchester United: Manchester United may not have had the best season in the history of the club, but after the last three season’s, this will be viewed as a success whether United win another trophy and finish inside the top four of the Premier League, or not. A trophy has already been won, European football has been achieved next season, albeit in the Europa League again, but with two chances to earn a Champions League place, everything is still possible. United in recent weeks have beaten Chelsea and earned a semi-final place in the Europa League, which will be seen as a positive, but the impending injury crisis will be a worry as United look thin on the ground all over the pitch right now, with rumours also surfacing, which could take the attention of the remainder of the season away for some.

Manchester City: Manchester City have not had a successful season. Yes, they earned a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, being knocked out at the hands of Arsenal, who earn their third cup final place in four seasons. They also reached the round of 16 in the Champions League, and still retain a place in the top four of the Premier League, but these coming weeks could see everything Pep Guardiola’s side have worked for disappear. City, that massive club in Manchester, have not won anything this season, not even the genius of the bald fraud could get them anything, not even the Premier League 2 title will head to the Etihad this season after Everton won the league with one match remaining. City are back to being a laughing-stock, spending cash for nothing, causing more problems than solving them. Next season will be magic if this decline continues under the best manager in the world!

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Manchester City this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 11 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, 7 – Paul Pogba, 6 – Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 3 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Manchester City: 30 – Sergio Agüero, 9 – Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling, 7 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 6 – Nolito, David Silva, Yaya Touré, 5 – Kevin De Bruyne, İlkay Gündoğan, 3 – Gabriel Jesus, 2 – Gaël Clichy, Fabian Delph, Fernandinho, John Stones, Pablo Zabaleta, 1 – Aleix García, Aleksandar Kolarov, Vincent Kompany

Team News: Injuries are at the breaking point for United, but Mourinho could be pulling a fast one!

Jose Mourinho will be without Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo for the visit to the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening. There is a chance that both Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba could miss the derby also, leaving United at barebones. The injury crisis seems to have hit United at the wrong time, with eight matches remaining this season, possibly nine if a European final could be obtained. United have been boosted by Mata suggesting he will be back before the end of the season, but that could well be weeks away at this moment in time. Manchester City have seven players out at this moment in time, İlkay Gündoğan, Gabriel Jesus, Bacary Sagna, John Stones, Fernandinho, Sergio Agüero and David Silva are the players on the sidelines, only two have been ruled out fully, meaning five could be involved in the derby. I am sure both managers will pull a few surprises between now and kick off on Thursday.

Previous Meetings: 16-match unbeaten run for United over an eleven year period, which ended just before the Lottery win for City!

Manchester United and Manchester City have a rich history dating back to the 3rd October 1891 when it was Newton Heath against Ardwick. Since then, 173 matches have been played between the two teams, United winning 72, drawing 51 and losing 50. Manchester City needed a rich Arabian owner in order to compete, which has not been all that great over the last ten years. Over £1 billion spent, yet only two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and an FA Community Shield to show would suggest that the money has not done the club as much good as many think. Even City fans think they are a top club, based on the fact they once beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford, despite it being six years ago now. This season, United have beaten City once, in the EFL Cup, losing in the Premier League. In the last five matches, United have won three, drawn one and lost one, which is good form against the noisy neighbours. Previous to that, United lost four in a row against their cross-city rivals. The longest unbeaten run for United against City lasted 16 matches from the 3rd February 1990 right the way through to the 21st April 2001. United registered ten victories and six draws in that period of just over eleven years. You can see wy they were hurting now, can’t you?

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Manchester City?

Predicted Score:

Manchester City 1-3 Manchester United

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