Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season. Last season, City did the double of United, beating them 4-1 at the Etihad and 2-0 at Old Trafford. United need to do much better this season.
City have scored the most goals in the Premier League this season, scoring 18 goals in the seven matches they have played so far. United have played just six matches, scoring eight goals. There is clearly some work for United to put in to get the better of this City side.
Erling Haaland will be the player to stop for United. The Norwegian has scored 11 goals in the Premier League so far this season and seems to be scoring them for fun. And to think that Ed Woodward did not push to sign him back in 2019. What a mistake that has been.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia;
Antony, Fernandes, Sancho;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea is perhaps not the goalkeeper he once was but he is not a terrible performer. Confidence has been an issue in the past and now with the likes of Dalot, Varane, Martinez and Malacia playing in front of him, he could restore himself as a decent goalkeeper.
Granted, United will need to solve the problem of who will replace De Gea in goal with his contract coming to an end at the end of the current season, although there is a one-year clause that can be activated, but his high wages are somewhat of a problem.
Erik ten Hag will have a plan for what happens with the goalkeeper position after this season, whether it is De Gea or Dean Henderson who gets the nod, or someone else, it all remains to be seen. De Gea will be determined to make this season count though.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia
United’s defence has made some right moves this season. Harry Maguire largely being benched is the right decision for the club. He has been terrible at times, even though I will probably be labelled as a hater for saying that. He deserves to be out of the team based on his form.
Diogo Dalot has played well for Portugal during the international break, scoring twice in the 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic. He’s in some good form at this stage. Tyrell Malacia, also has been in good form and should start ahead of Luke Shaw against City.
In the centre of defence, no changes need to be made with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez partnering once again in the Premier League and tasked with a big job of nullifying the likes of Erling Haaland in the Manchester Derb, of which it will be the first for Martinez and Malacia.
Midfield: Eriksen, Casemiro
United’s midfield has a lot of competition this season and the mainstay of that will be Christian Eriksen. He has been one of the best signings that United have made in the last few years and he was a free agent. He has performed to the best of his abilities.
He might prefer to play a more attacking role in the midfield but playing in the two-man midfield, he has been largely positive and his eye for deliveries from deeper positions is second to none. We are still yet to see Casemiro form a partnership in the midfield this season.
The Brazilian is working hard to match what Ten Hag expects of him and seems to be adapting well to a new way of playing after his success at Real Madrid. It could well be that Scott McTominay partners Eriksen in this match, at least for some of the match but Casemiro needs to start soon.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Sancho
United have some really talented players in these three positions this season. Against City, Antony would be the best player to start on the right-wing. His eye for the ball and his delivery will be the best to try and get City on the front foot. He has an eye for a goal too.
Bruno Fernandes needs to start offering more in terms of goals and assists but a problem here is that United have played just two Europa League matches before the international break, not playing a Premier League match since that victory over Arsenal almost a month ago.
Jadon Sancho will have something to prove against his former club. He was not selected for England in the last international break, which saw them relegated from the A level of the Nations League, not winning a single match. He has starred for United so far this season.
United have some major problems in attack this season. Anthony Martial is still out after missing the first Premier League matches of the season, putting in 45 minutes against Liverpool before missing the next three league matches, plus the opening Europa League matches.
Marcus Rashford received an injury against Arsenal at the start of September and also missed the international break for England. He has not trained this week but did return to training on Friday, so unless he has been training on his own, he might only feature from the bench on Sunday.
This would mean that Cristiano Ronaldo would need to lead the line for United. His season has not seen him start all that well and this could cost United. He did not have a great international break either. He has one goal in eight appearances so far.
Substitutes: Heaton; Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, McTominay, Pellistri; Rashford, Elanga, Garnacho
Ten Hag will be able to call on five substitutes in the Premier League this season which will give more players the opportunity to break into the first team over the course of the season. With Martin Dubravka likely out of action, Tom Heaton will be on the bench should anything happen to De Gea.
In defence, with Harry Maguire out of this match, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw could possible be available. There have been a number of U21 players training with the first team too, so there could be an introduction for at least one new face ahead of this match.
In the midfield, Fred, Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri could all be available with United needing some attacking impetus at this stage. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga and Alejandro Garnacho could all be available to add just that against City.
Written by John Walker