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Preview: Donny van de Beek should be starting against Manchester City this weekend; United need a win…

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Manchester United -v- Manchester City

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 6 November 2021, KO 12:30 GMT

Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan

Manchester United return to Premier League football ahead of the last international break of 2021, welcoming Manchester City to Old Trafford in a 12:30 kick off on Saturday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side got back to winning ways in the league last weekend as they beat a terrible Tottenham Hotspur side 3-0 last Saturday evening. On Tuesday, United drew 2-2 with Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League, coming from behind twice in the match with Cristiano Ronaldo saving United blushes with two goals in added time at the end of each half. Ronaldo has scored nine goals in the 11 appearances he has made since returning to United.

Solskjaer needs to be stronger in his team selection. He seems to stick with favourites despite many of them not performing during the past month which has seen United on a poor run of form, despite being lucky at times in Champions League matches. Losing Raphael Varane ahead of the derby is a big loss with United’s defence looking shaky this season without him but Eric Bailly’s performance against Atalanta will give United some steel at the back, which is much needed at this time. Harry Maguire will need to find form sooner or later or he, himself, could face some time on the bench.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: DWLWLD

Atalanta 2-2 D, Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 W, Liverpool 5-0 L, Atalanta 3-2 W, Leicester City 4-2 L, Everton 1-1 D

Goals: 9 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles

Assists: 8 – Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, 2 – Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, 1 – Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane

Manchester City – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WLLWWW

Club Brugge 4-1 W, Crystal Palace 2-0 L, West Ham United 0-0 (5-3 pens) L, Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1 W, Club Brugge 5-1 W, Burnley 2-0 W

Goals: 8 – Riyad Mahrez, 5 – Phil Foden, 4 – Gabriel Jesus, 3 – Kevin De Bruyne, Ferran Torres, 2 – João Cancelo, Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gündogan, Cole Palmer, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, 1 – Nathan Aké, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Kyle Walker

Assists: 5 – Gabriel Jesus, 4 – João Cancelo, Phil Foden, 3 – Jack Grealish, 2 – Rúben Dias, Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, 1 – Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Luke Mbete, Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand

Previous meetings with Manchester City and their connections with Manchester United.

United and City have met a total of 48 times in the history of the Premier League – with City being the only of the two teams to have been relegated from the English top flight in this time. United have won 24 times, drawn nine times with City winning the remaining 15 times. United have scored 70 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. City have scored 61 goals, winning one penalty and failing to score it. United have kept a total of 18 clean sheets, with City keeping 10. United players have been shown 84 yellow cards and seven red cards with City players being shown 106 yellow cards and one red card.

There have been many players who have played for both United and City in the history of both clubs. The more well known are Billy Meredith, Denis Law, Brian Kidd, Terry Cooke, Peter Schmeichel, Andrew Cole, Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Abbie McManus, Jane Ross, Aoife Mannion, Charlie McNeill (who has only played academy football with both teams so far and current United first team player Jadon Sancho. In recent history, Tevez was a player who left West Ham United for United on a two-year loan. At United, in a total of 99 appearances, scoring 34 goals and 14 assists. Hargreaves starred for United and was crocked at City.

Team News: Varane out for a month in blow for United ahead of the derby, Pogba suspended; City have two injuries, two suspensions and one doubt ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season.

Raphael Varane (Hamstring) is out for up to a month after suffering the injury in the first half against Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, which was a massive blow for United, especially with the fact the defence has been much better since he recovered from the injury he sustained for France in the last international break. Paul Pogba is suspended for the next two Premier League matches, which is probably for the best considering his poor performance against Atalanta on Tuesday. Victor Lindelof missed the match on Tuesday after he suffered a training injury on Monday but has a 50% chance of featuring against City.

Ferran Torres (Metatarsal) and Liam Delap (Ankle) have both been ruled out for the short trip to Old Trafford due to injury. Kyle Walker (Ankle/Foot) has a 50% chance of being available for Saturday’s derby due to injury and it will be a blow for City if he is not available. Aymeric Laporte is suspended for the next two Premier League matches and Benjamin Mendy has been suspended by the club after being charged by the police in August. City have a strong squad and will be able to deal with these injuries. It is United who have major problems with injuries and have no real back up should first-choice players be out of action.

Predicted Starting XI: Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against City; Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic in midfield?

Solskjaer needs to learn that constantly picking the same players who have been letting United down is going to continue the same problem, not solve the problem with the players raising their game. The manager needs to become stronger in his selection and select on merit, not based on how well they performed in the past. The fact that Paul Pogba, who does not look like he cares, was selected against Atalanta, putting in a poor performance with Donny van de Beek on the bench, who came on as a cameo and performed better than the Frenchman is something that will catch up with Solskjaer and look even worse than it does now.

Solskjaer needs to stick with David De Gea in goal. He made a mistake against Atalanta, but it was his firs of the season. Some have been making mistakes for months now. In defence, reverting to a back four is needed with current injury problems with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire (who is out of form) and Alex Telles needing to solve the defensive problems. A three-man midfield with Nemanja Matic in the defensive area, Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes could give United some threat against City. The forward three should be Marcus Rashford on the left, Mason Greenwood on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the attack.

Match Prediction: City have not beaten United in the Premier League since the 24 April 2019 with Solskjaer’s side winning three and drawing once in the four league matches played since then.

Last season, United were unbeaten against City in the Premier League. The first Manchester derby of the season was played at Old Trafford on the 12 December 2020. It was a 0-0 draw. It was a pretty even encounter with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side nullifying Pep Guardiola’s side, at a time where United were in a title race but City soon got back to their best form and won the league in the end with United finishing second, 12 points behind their cross-city rivals. At the Etihad, United won 2-0 with Bruno Fernandes scoring a second minute penalty and Luke Shaw, assisted by Marcus Rashford doubling the lead in the 50th minute, securing the win.

This season, the pressure is on United and Solskjaer to get good results, especially at a time where United have some big matches, having played Liverpool already, losing 5-0, now City but after the international break face Watford, Chelsea and Arsenal. The 3-0 victory over Spurs gave United some time, but collapses against City, Chelsea and Arsenal will probably cost United greatly. It is up to Solskjaer, his coaching team and the players to drive United forward, scalping their opposition, which would bring the good feeling back and send all the moaning social media fans into an early hibernation. Come on United!

Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW