Preview: The United of old need to show up against City, but will they? Stranger things happen

Manchester City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Sunday 6 March 2022, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Michael OliverAssistants: Simon Bennett, Scott Ledger

Fourth Official: Andy Madley

VAR: Stuart Attwell – Assistant VAR: Darren Cann

Manchester United will face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the second Manchester derby of the Premier League season. United were beaten 2-0 at Old Trafford back in November in a match which shows the fragile state of United.

However, time has passed and United, despite looking far from convincing, have pulled through a string of positive results under the management of Ralf Rangnick. United may be out of luck lifting anything this season but have pride to play for.

United’s participation in the Emirates FA Cup ended in February and their UEFA Champions League participation rests on the round of 16 second leg clash with Atletico Madrid in a few weeks after a 1-1 draw in Madrid. Finishing at least fourth in the league is all United really have to play for.

That said, the future for United is all but certain. Rangnick will manage the club until the end of the season and until a new manager has been announced, United will not be ready to move on from this decade post-Sir Alex Ferguson which has been abject, infuriating and badly managed.

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

Watford 0-0 D, Atletico Madrid 1-1 D, Leeds United 4-2 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D, Burnley 1-1 D

Goals: 15 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Marcus Rashford, 4 – Jadon Sancho, 3 – Anthony Elanga, Fred, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, 1 – Own Goal, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 14 – Bruno Fernandes, 8 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Luke Shaw, 4 – Fred, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Alex Telles, Raphael Varane

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

Peterborough United 2-0 W, Everton 1-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 L, Sporting CP 5-0 W, Norwich City 4-0 W, Brentford 2-0 W

Goals: 19 – Riyad Mahrez, 13 – Raheem Sterling, 10 – Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, 8 – Kevin De Bruyne, 7 – Ilkay Gündogan, 6 – Gabriel Jesus, 4 – Jack Grealish, 3 – João Cancelo, Aymeric Laporte, Cole Palmer, Rodri, Ferran Torres, 2 – Nathan Aké, Rúben Dias, John Stones, 1 – Fernandinho, Kyle Walker

Assists: 8 – João Cancelo, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, 7 – Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, 5 – Ilkay Gündogan, 4 – Rúben Dias, Raheem Sterling, 3 – Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, 2 – Fernandinho, Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko, 1 – Luke Mbete, Cole Palmer, Rodri, Ferran Torres, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand

Previous meetings with City and their connections with United.

United and City have met a total of 49 times in the Premier League. United have won 24 times, drawing nine matches with City winning 16 times. United have scored 70 goals, winning five penalties, scoring four. City have scored 63 goals, winning one penalty, missing it.

United have kept 18 clean sheets in these fixtures with City keeping 11. Discipline is a problem with United player shown 85 yellow cards and seven red cards and City players shown 108 yellow cards and one red card. The Manchester derby is usually a fiery clash.

Billy Meredith, Denis Law, Brian Kidd, Terry Cooke, Peter Schmeichel, Andrew Cole, Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Abbie McManus, Jane Ross, Aoife Mannion, Charlie McNeill (academy) and Jadon Sancho have played for both teams in Manchester.

Meredith played over 700 matches for United and City combined in a 30-year period, including a five-year break in play because of WWI. Law, Kidd, Schmeichel, Cole, Tevez and Hargreaves were a success at United. Perhaps Sancho and McNeill can follow in their footsteps.

Team News: Dias and Aké both out for City, which is a blow for Guardiola. Cavani and McTominay should both be back in action, in some way, this weekend.

Manchester United: Edinson Cavani (Groin) has a 75% chance of featuring for United against City, so he will likely be on the bench. Scott McTominay (Illness) was training earlier in the week so could be restored to the starting XI once again, which will be a boost for the midfield.

Manchester City: Ruben Dias (Thigh) and Nathan Ake (Knock) have been ruled out of the derby through injury. Cole Palmer (Ankle/Foot) is expected to miss this clash too, having been out for a few weeks and Zack Steffen (Lower Back) will also be an absentee.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Elanga and Sancho in attack? Fernandes, Pogba and McTominay in the midfield? Maguire and Varane in defence with Dalot and Telles at fullback?

Rangnick will need to select the right balance in his team to take on the might of City on Sunday afternoon. City are three points clear at the top of the league, but Liverpool will have a game in hand after this match, so there are chances for them to reach the summit.

It is not going to be an easy match for United and they will need to be at the top of their game, which is something that could happen considering their recent performances. The Watford match showed a resolute United but the failure to score a single goal was worrying.

David De Gea will keep his place in goal against City but United’s defence will need to show up. I would like to see both Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles in the fullback positions against City with Raphaël Varane and Harry Maguire in the centre of the defence.

A midfield trio of Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes shoed give some steel in the midfield and creativity, which is what United really need to be working on in this match. Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho should flank Cristiano Ronaldo.

Match Prediction:

Last season, United drew 0-0 with City in the first Manchester derby which was played at Old Trafford, which was considered to be a good result at the time. At the Etihad, United won 2-0 with goals from Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw – four points out of six.

Earlier this season, United were beaten 2-0 by City at Old Trafford in what was considered as one of the worst performances at the Theatre of Dreams. City could have easily scored more goals and United should have been even more embarrassed than they were.

This is not a season that United will gain much from. Self-esteem, honour, faith, belief and everything else seems to be devoid at the club right now and the standards have slipped massively. United have a slight chance to end the season on a high.

That high will be finishing in the top four of the Premier League, which was dented with a 0-0 draw with Watford last weekend. A win against City could help their chances but it will still be an uphill task for Rangnick’s squad.

Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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About editor 2143 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.