Manchester United will have to be at their best this weekend as their second big test of the week will commence at 17:30 GMT on Saturday evening as they face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League. With their 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday evening, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side rose to sixth in the Premier League but still find themselves 11 points behind their noisy neighbours, who are 11 points adrift of league leaders, Liverpool.
The starting XI might not change much from the team which faced and beat Jose Mourinho’s side at Old Trafford unless Solskjaer is able to include Paul Pogba, which may sound a bit premature, unless he is much fitter than has been alluded to over the past few weeks. We know that he has been training this week, so who knows? One thing is for sure though, United need to raise their game and show grit, fight and determination.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish number one was unlucky not to keep a clean sheet against Spurs on Wednesday but Dele Alli’s superb finishing got one back for Mourinho’s side at De Gea’s expense. Still, a win is a win and keeping a clean sheet, although good, is not necessary. De Gea is a great goalkeeper and the confidence of a big win over Spurs will help him look forward to the clash against City and hopefully be that player that the noisy neighbours cannot break down the resolve of with United reigning supreme in the first Manchester derby of the 2019/20 season.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
The defence did well against Spurs and I think all but Ashley Young will keep their places in the starting XI this weekend. Luke Shaw should replace the veteran in the squad after playing just three minutes plus stoppage time in the 2-1 victory over Mourinho’s side. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has done well turning defence into attack and becoming a problem player on the right flank, which was problematic over the past few seasons. The duo of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire looked better against Spurs and Lindelof does raise his game when playing against better teams.
Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay
The midfield worked their socks off against Spurs at Old Trafford and despite sitting out for about a month, including the international break, Scott McTominay did well to do what he did against Mourinho’s side. The Scottish international really is a player who brings confidence, composure and fight into the midfield. If Pogba is fit, he should not play in this area of the pitch, but further forward, occupying the number ten position in the centre of the attacking midfielders, behind the striker, which did him well last season. Fred had a great game against Spurs, and as he has shown in recent weeks, the more he plays, the better he seems to be getting. He has a way to go though.
Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford
I think Solskjaer will retain the 4-2-3-1 formation away this weekend, which goes against his recent plan in which he reverted to a 3-4-3 formation, which largely has not worked. Daniel James, fresh from his promising appearance against Spurs will keep his place as will Jesse Lingard, who scored his first goal of 2019 against Astana in Kazakhstan last Thursday and showed some promise of his own against Spurs, despite needing to do a lot more to warrant a place in this team, especially if Pogba is fit. If the Frenchman is ready to start, Lingard will lose his place. Marcus Rashford, fresh from scoring a brace against Spurs will also keep his place. He has scored 12 goals for United this season and is confident enough to keep that run coming.
Striker: Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood started against Spurs on Wednesday evening and showed exactly what a true striker should have shown. He literally has no nerves which play on him, which is a good sign of a player who is ready to play in a first team environment in a top-flight league. Greenwood might be young in terms of age but as far as experience goes, the four goals he has scored this season, in line with the appearances he has made, both this season, during the summer and last season, it has certainly helped him show himself as a player for the future, and for now. I think he played better than Anthony Martial could have against Spurs.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams; Paul Pogba, Andreas Pereira, James Garner
The bench will be important against City as this will give Solskjaer something to think about if the team he has chosen is not able to cause any damage to City. Sergio Romero returned to the bench against Spurs. The likes of Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams could add something in defence, if needed with Paul Pogba (if fit enough), Andreas Pereira, and James Garner adding something in attack, creativity and pace. With Martial likely to be injured, there is a lack of attacking players to feature on the bench, unless youth is looked towards.