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Ratings: Terrible United fall to City defeat; Solskjaer needs to figure this out or the curtains will close

Manchester United were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in the Premier League. An own goal by Eric Bailly in the seventh minute of the match, added to a Bernardo Silva effort just before half time saw United suffer their fourth defeat in the league this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to find some way to come back from these toothless displays of football if he is to turn this around, but there will be fewer people on his side after this performance, which shows that United have not really moved on or bettered themselves from the Liverpool defeat.

United started well in the initial stages of the Manchester derby with Fred winning the ball from Gabriel Jesus, the ball finding its way to Cristiano Ronaldo but he was caught in possession by Kyle Walker. Bernardo Silva then got himself into the United area, skipping past a few challenges including one from Harry Maguire. The Portuguese midfielder then tried to get one over David De Gea, but his effort was not as good as it could have been. City took the lead in the seventh minute of the match with Walker in Ilkay Gundogan combining but Victor Lindelof thwarted that. Joao Cancelo then sent the ball towards goal for Eric Bailly to score an own goal.

United did not seem able to string anything together and looked dejected to a point after the own goal. Solskjaer’s side did not seem to recover much and City had them where they wanted them – and that was on the back foot under a lot of pressure which is where more mistakes could happen. Victor Lindelof almost scored another own goal in the latter stages of the half. However, in added time, City scored again with Bernardo Silva slotting home from close range with Joan Cancelo providing the assist. To overcome this, United needed to have a faultless second half, which was not looking likely, unfortunately.

At the start of the second half, Solskjaer made his first substitution with Jadon Sancho replacing Bailly, which saw United revert to four across the back with more width on the pitch going forward. The three\five at the back formation does not seem to be working for United, apart from the 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but it would seem the manager and the coaches have some belief in it, which is strange. It’s good that the change was made with enough time to change the outcome of this match, rather than in the last 20 minutes of the match. There is much room for improvement though.

United struggled to gather anything to press City despite being 2-0 down. Solskjaer needed to see that a pathetic football team he has. They have been 2-0 down a few times this season and played better to get back into the match. City did play well though and seemed to close United down when they felt adventurous. Luke Shaw seemed to be carrying an injury half way though the second half, which was not good. Solskjaer brought Marcus Rashford on for Mason Greenwood in the 67th minute of the match, which did not seem to change much for United. Shaw made way for Alex Telles in the 73rd minute, as a concussion substitute.

Solskjaer was entitled to make a fourth substitution, which he did in the 80th minute sending Donny van de Beek on for another cameo with Fred making way. City still seemed the team to beat at that stage of the match though with United seemingly heading into another international break after a defeat, which is not going to be good for Solskjaer, his coaches or the players. I am sure the media will be on the case for a fortnight before United play another Premier League match. One thing was for sure, United would be licking their wounds again, something that they have become accustomed to, especially this season.

City did all they needed to do against United by scoring twice. In fact, I don’t think United were capable of coming back from one goal, let alone two. To see a United team this terrible shows that something is not right at all. United players had more shown on target against their own goalkeeper than they did against Emerson at the other end of the pitch. That is a major problem. United need many changes going forward, but they will never come. Having Donny van de Beek on the bench all of the time and playing cameo roles shows that he’s not respected enough by the manager and the coaches. It is all wrong.

United now face a two-week wait before they face Watford a Vicarage Road in the Premier League. Three days after that, they will face Villarreal in the penultimate match of the UEFA Champions League group stages and five days later, face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge which will see the end of the month for Solskjaer’s United. December will be much tougher. This United team has some great players, some are inconsistent, some carry the team as much as they can and others are not getting too many chances, whilst some are given as many chances as they need to continue letting the team down. Something has to give.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made five saves against City, which kind of kept United in the game at 1-0 down. Conceded a second, which was a slight mistake by the Spaniard.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Could have scored an own goal, which would have been the second of the day for United. Got thought a late fitness test. Not sure what happens from here for this defence.

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5 Harry Maguire

Still in a slump of form, which does not seem to be ending. Needs to stand up and be counted, rather than issuing apologies as the captain.

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3 Eric Bailly

After being the best defender on the pitch against Atalanta, Bailly put in a poor performance against City, scoring an own goal after seven minutes. He was replaced by Sancho in the 46th minute of the match.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Seems to have regressed a bit. There will be questions as to whether he is the right-back United need to eventually kick on. Positionally, he was awful at times.

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39 Scott McTominay

Works hard but was shown up by City's midfielders. Not sure he's a player that will gain the ability to be a big player for United. Squad player maybe, if United ever learn to trust players that they buy; Donny van de Beek for instance.

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17 Fred

Lacked the presence to face this City side. Should have been benched by Van de Beek. Not sure why Fred is trusted week in and week out only to let United down the majority of the time.

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23 Luke Shaw

Forced off with a head injury, so could be out for the international break. Created a chance for Ronaldo but was slow in averting City for the second goal. Replaced by Telles as a concussion substitute in the 73rd minute.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Sometimes wasteful with the ball. Got too emotional at times, especially after the own goal. United need to regroup and find a formation and team set up that works, not keep failing like this.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Seemed to struggle alongside Ronaldo. He was a player in form on Tuesday but that soon changed against City. He was replaced by Rashford in the 67th minute.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Managed to draw a save from Ederson, which was the only chance he had on goal. Seemed to lack service and found himself isolated for most of the time.

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Substitutes

25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced Bailly 46'. Brought some energy to this United side. However, lacking minutes this season will see him struggle as he needs the time on the pitch to find his form.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Greenwood 67'. I'm not sure his introduction made an impact at all. He will not be happy with that though.

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27 Alex Telles

Replaced Shaw 73'. United were out of this match before he came on. He perhaps should have started the match.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Fred 80'. Got another cameo and should have started. Did all he could but United were down an out before his introduction.

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Goals: Eric Bailly 7′ o/g, Bernardo Silva 45′

Assists: Joao Cancelo 45′

Manchester United: De Gea; Lindelof, Maguire, Bailly (Sancho 46′); Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Fred (Van de Beek 80′), Shaw (Telles 73′); Fernandes; Greenwood (Rashford 67′), Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Dalot; Lingard, Matic; Martial

Bookings: Cristiano Ronaldo 90′; Joao Cancelo 48′, Bernardo Silva 58′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ronaldo and Greenwood lead the line against City; Fernandes, Fred and McTominay in midfield

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 this 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:

De Gea;

Lindelof, Maguire, Bailly;

Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Fred, Shaw;

Fernandes;

Greenwood, Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Henderson; Dalot, Telles; Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Martial, Rashford, Sancho

Manchester City:

Ederson;

Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo;

Gundogan, Rodri, Silva;

Jesus, De Bruyne, Foden

Substitutes:

Steffen, Carson; Ake, Zinchenko; Grealish, Fernandinho, Palmer; Sterling, Mahrez

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.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-3] Ronaldo, Rashford and Greenwood in attack, Matic, Van de Beek and Fernandes in midfield?

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.

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.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Manchester City in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has done more for United this season that he had last season. His form has improved, he seems to be full of confidence – even at a time when United’s defence is more of a liability than a line of steel. He made a mistake against Atalanta earlier on the week and he will be more determined to get a good result against City this season – with United unbeaten by their bitter rivals since the 24 April 2019. This shows that United can beat anyone as long as they do what is needed on the pitch. With the attacking positions being top heavy this season, there are chances that United will outscore City, as long as they play well.

Solskjaer should stick by his first-choice goalkeeper this season as he has the experience and desire to deliver for United. As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, attack wins you matches but defence wins you titles. When United get the defence right, they will have an outstanding team to push for the honours. Of course, the social media fans, who seem to moan incessantly about anything, often contradicting themselves to get the likes and the retweets, will not see this as there is no interest in it. They just want United to hire and fire manager after manager so they can keep putting their agendas out there for more muppetry to continue. Weird fans.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence needs some work right now. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the best right-back at the club with Diogo Dalot no really looking good in the position when he played against West Ham United in the Carabao Cup, so for that reason, the English defender should keep his place. Luke Shaw has not managed to pick up his form recently and should be benched giving Alex Telles the chance to show what he can bring to the table. It could be the right thing for Shaw to work on his form, knowing that the manager could bench him when he does not bring what is needed to the table. Solskjaer needs to be ruthless. He’s the manager, not a friend of them all.

In the centre of the defence, Harry Maguire has been poor of late, making a series of mistakes but as the club captain, he seems to be undroppable no matter how badly he plays. It is time for him to stand up ad be counted, or at some point in the not too distant future, everything could change and he could be fighting for his place in the team under a new manager, if that was what United chose to do. Eric Bailly played well against Atalanta, so should keep his place in the team. He has only been used twice this season, so should be fit enough to play in back to back matches. Victor Lindelof could freshen up later in the game, if fit.

Midfield Three: Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic, Bruno Fernandes

United’s midfield needs a bit of tweaking. There is one player at the club who can make the midfield look the part at the club but he has been overlooked to the point where the rumours have gained pace about a January move. Donny van de Beek should be playing ahead of Paul Pogba, who clearly does not care about United. The red card against Liverpool and a poor performance against Atalanta shows that he should be a player that is banished from the first team for the remainder of the season, allowed to leave the club and forgotten about. Van de Beek showed more interest in about eight minutes than Pogba did in 69 minutes.

Nemanja Matic should start against City, shielding the defence. As he tires, he could be replaced by either Fred or McTominay – who could continue his role as long as it is needed in the match. Granted, his pace is slow and he’s getting older, but he would play for other teams in Europe regularly, so why not now. Let him show what he can do. He is one of the players that actually cares about the direction of the club right now. Bruno Fernandes should also play in the midfield, playing a more advanced role, which he could swap with Van de Beek, to catch City out. If this formation is never tried, it will never be tried. The 4-2-3-1 formation does not work for United.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford

A three-man attacking with two players in the wide positions and one through the centre, plus the midfield three, which will largely see two extra players attacking, could be the right formation for United moving forward. But is Solskjaer ever going to try it. United have played in the 4-3-3 formation under him and did well, so it should really be something that is tried more often. Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to lead the line, scoring nine goals in 11 appearances so far this season, so he is guaranteed matches. He could be replaced by Edinson Cavani, or the system could be tweaked so the two could play off each other, as they did against Spurs.

Marcus Rashford should play on the left-wing, as he can find goals and assists from the wide areas, even cutting in to strike on goal. He has played well against City in the past and as a Manchester lad, he will be seeking to do well for United. On the right-wing, Mason Greenwood, who is in a positive period of form, should start. His assist got United an equaliser against Atalanta on Tuesday with Ronaldo scoring a brace in the game. Having him on the pitch will cause City some problems, providing everything goes well. Late in the game he could be replaced by Jadon Sancho, who could make his first appearance against his former club.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Jesse Lingard, Fred, Scott McTominay; Edinson Cavani, Jadon Sancho

Solskjaer will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench for this last Premier League match before the final international break of 2021. He will be able to use three substitutes in the match – which will need to be the right changes to get a good result against City. Dean Henderson will remain on the bench for the foreseeable future, which will not be great for him and could see him loaned out against come the January transfer window. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could strengthen the defence, should that be needed – which is probably likely considering the might of City.

In the midfield, Jesse Lingard, Fred and Scott McTominay could all be called upon, if needed. Lingard has a role to play this season, at least until January when he might be sold before the expiry of his current contract in the summer. Fred and McTominay are players who tend to get the most abuse, despite them performing well for the majority of the time, despite Fred showing himself as a terrible footballer some of the time. In attack, which is where United have a wealth of talent, both Edinson Cavani, who scored his first goal of the season against Spurs last weekend and Jadon Sancho, who is still waiting for his first goal or assist this season.

Written by John Walker

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

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

Ratings: Fernandes and Shaw give United victory over City; Martial’s performance was a key point in the victory – Solskjaer will be pleased

Manchester United beat Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League. It was an instant start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side after Anthony Martial won a penalty which was scored by Bruno Fernandes in the second minute of the match. City then got themselves into the game, attacking United but the quality was not the greatest and United started to dominate the match at times, pushing forward and threatening to score again. United led 1-0 at the break and started the second half in good stead as Luke Shaw scored the second goal of the game after a throw by Dean Henderson started the attack with Marcus Rashford, who was later injured, provided the assist. Solskjaer will be happy as Manchester turns red again. Jonny won’t be pleased though!

United started off in fine fettle against the Premier League leaders, pushing to get an early goal, which was something we had not seen in the last three matches. Marcus Rashford had the ball outside the box and nudged it to Anthony Martial, who was just inside when Gabriel Jesus challenged him, giving away a penalty in the first minute of the match. Bruno Fernandes took the penalty, beating Ederson from the spot to put United 1-0 up, scoring the first goal in three matches. Luke Shaw then had a good chance a few minutes later after Joao Cancelo’s dithering on the ball resulted in United regaining possession in the box and Shaw firing into Ederson, who made the save to deny United from going 2-0 up early in the match. United have turned up today.

City started to get themselves back into the game after going 1-0 down but Kevin De Bruyne was really not in the zone, which was a worrying sight for the Noisy Neighbours. City grew into the clash, getting more of the ball and starting to control the game, despite not being very fluent in front of goal at this stage. United may find themselves walking a tightrope at stages in the match and they will need to keep the pressure off them by retaining the ball themselves and pressuring City. The home side had a few chances to get something back from the match but wayward shooting and United defending well got the better of their shots, which saw United still in the lead on the midway point of the half.

Dean Henderson was having a positive game for United in the first half, making one good save to deny City from getting level inn the match, which was good to see, He seems to be much more vocal in the box than David De Gea, which is a good sign that he has all the ingredients to take his place in the team under Solskjaer. These next few matches will be good for him to continue showing just what he can do for his club. Harry Maguire was the first player in the match to be booked around the 33rd minute of the match, which is something he will need to stem if he does not want a suspension. Henderson made another good save to deny City in the 38th minute of the match, which is good going for the goalkeeper. It was still 1-0 to United at the end of the half.

There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half with United looking to double their lead from the early stages of the half, which came true for them. In the 50th minute of the match, Dean Henderson threw the ball out to Luke Shaw, who ran up the left flank and played the ball out to Marcus Rashford, who was further out on the flank. Shaw then cut in towards the box with a crowded Rashford playing the ball into the box, he took a second before launching his shot, beating Ederson, who watched the ball cross the line for United’s second of the match. Shaw was then booked in the 58th minute of the match with Henderson booked for time wasting two minutes later. United needed to keep this heads at this stage of the game.

United were close to scoring a third goal in the 69th minute of the match, which resulted in a corner but Ederson claimed it with City then on the attack. United have been in top form in the second half and actually look like the Premier League leaders, more than the leaders themselves. There was still 20 minutes to play and City were so far not getting anywhere, but that could all change if United lose their footing. Rashford seemed to be injured in the 72nd minute of the match, coming off at the nearest point with Mason Greenwood getting ready to come on. Henderson, who had a goal kick, played the ball out to allow the substitution but Greenwood was not really. He came on in the 73rd minute, switching sides with Daniel James, to help push for a victory.

With just under ten minutes remaining, United broke through again with Fernandes, who played a pass to Greenwood, who was on the right flank. He ran into the box and tried to pass further into the box to aim for a third goal. The ball was just short of Daniel James, who was in the middle of the box only for City to regain possession and launch an attack, which according to the commentators, was brilliant but did not result in a goal. United still needed to keep on top of their game here as there was a feeling that City could get a goal back, which would inspire them to get another, then a winner. Solskjaer’s side were the dominant one, despite the City onslaught at times, which was a worry, despite how dire they were.

Nemanja Matic replaced Anthony Martial in the 88th minute, Solskjaer’s second substitution of the match. Martial had a good game and look determined to change his form, which was good to see. He was up for the challenge and did well to help United take the lead, winning a penalty, which was scored in the second minute of the match. There was five minutes to be added on at the end of the half, which would see City looking to get something from this match. Solskjaer made his final substation with Brandon Williams replacing Fernandes in the third minute of added time, which resulted in a defensive shakeup to keep City at bay to close the game down and earn the victory.

United will be thrilled with their performances against City in the league this season, taking four points off them home and away and winning at the Etihad once again. This is what United needed to raise their game towards the end of the season with all to play for yet. United will face AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, which is their only home match this month. It is important that United keep going as there are things to play for this season with their form in the Premier League showing improvement, the Emirates FA Cup still to play for, with Leicester City their opposition later this month at the King Power Stadium. The Europa League could be for the taking if United play their cards right.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Made an important save to deny Mahrez. Was a big hit in goal against City and did not seem to be flustered at all. His pre-assist for Shaw's goal was great thinking. This clean sheet will mean more to him and United. Good to see him get more game time and it was well deserved.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Got forward a lot of the time with United pushing to score goals. City were feckless at times, which was great to see. What a run to end though. United have a lot to play for this season. The league title might be out of reach but the improvement is there and there is a challenge happening, no matter how credible.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The clean sheet will be a defining point for United. He defended well as City seemed off the boil. Partnered Maguire well despite carrying a lower back injury.

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5 Harry Maguire

Had a good match in defence, despite being booked. Showed determination to keep United driving forward.

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23 Luke Shaw

What a performance from the left-back. He drove forward the majority of the match, until City were on the attack, in which he defended his ground. Five minutes into the second half, he drove forward with the ball, laid it off to Rashford, who passed back, then scored the second goal of the match, putting United into a good lead. He recently won the Player of the Month award for February and will be seeking to build on that inn his best season at the club.

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17 Fred

A better performance for the Brazilian. He had fun against City today, even nutmegging the opposition at times. He ran and kept the midfield ticking, which was good to see.

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39 Scott McTominay

Played an important part in the victory over City and was no doubt inspired by his performance at Old Trafford a year ago, in which he scored the second goal from some distance. He did not score today, but his performance was big and needed as United took three points off City at the Etihad again.

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Ratings: Fernandes and Shaw give United victory over City; Martial’s performance was a key point in the victory – Solskjaer will be pleased

He was an important player against City and used his pace and ability to get United forward

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18 Bruno Fernandes

He's back. Scored his 23rd goal of the season, from the penalty spot, in the second minute of the match after Martial was fouled in the box by Jesus. Created a lot throughout the match as United dominated with City scrappy in both defence and in attack. Good to see him back on track at an important stage of the season.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Played a good game for United, using his pace to get the back into the danger areas and get United forward. He had hard luck in the first half but got his assist as United doubled their lead through Shaw in the 50th minute of the match. He got an injury in the 72nd minute and came off with Greenwood replacing him.

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9 Anthony Martial

Won a penalty, which was scored by Fernandes in the second minute of the match. He did not get any goals or assists but you could see that he was ready for this match and wanted to change his form. He was not smiling, but he's going in the right direction to make things better, which is good to see.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Rashford 73'. It was a shame to lose Rashford to injury, which will be a worry. He used his pace and attacking threat to get forward, which was good for him. He might well be starting the next match if Rashford is out so he will get his time to shine.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Martial 88'. Came on with two minutes and added time to play. Bolstered the defence and his replacement has the effect is needed - to keep United on top and claiming the victory. Had little time to make more of an impact.

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33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Fernandes 90+3'. Came on with two minutes of added time to play. His introduction made Solskjaer's side more defensive, with a City onslaught likely but never really happened. Not really enough time on the pitch to make an impact.

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Goals: Bruno Fernandes 2′ penalty, Luke Shaw 40′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 50′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; James, Fernandes (Williams 90+3′), Rashford (Greenwood 73′); Martial (Matic 88′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Shoretire

Bookings: Harry Maguire 33′, Luke Shaw 58′, Dean Henderson 60′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Lindelof, McTominay, James, Fernandes, Rashford and Martial start against Manchester City

Manchester United face the biggest match of the Premier League season when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have drawn the last three matches in a row with the same 0-0 scoreline, which at this stage is a problem as United did not seem to be able to score any goals. Pep Guardiola’s City sit at the top of the Premier League, having a 14 point lead over United, which was not the case in January. Solskjaer’s side will need to find a way to break down the league leaders, which will be problematic as they are in great form, winning all of their last six matches, which will see them push to win the league at some point next month. United need to get a win on the board to save their season.

Last season, Solskjaer did the double over City, winning both at home and away, also beating them in one of the semi-final legs of the Carabao Cup, losing the other and seeing themselves knocked out of the competition, which was the same this season, although it was just a one-legged tie. United are unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions, their last seven in the Premier League. However, in the league, the majority of the last seven matches (six) were all draws which is not great form heading into the biggest match of the season for Solskjaer and his United squad. David De Gea looks to be out of action for the foreseeable future, after becoming a father so this will be an even bigger match for Dean Henderson.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

James, Fernandes, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Grant; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Matic, Shoretire; Greenwood

Manchester City:

Ederson;

Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko;

De Bruyne, Rodrigo, Gundogan;

Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Substitutes:

Steffen; Walker, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo, Torres, Fernandinho, Foden; Aguero

United and City have met 47 times in the history of the Premier League with this weekend’s Manchester derby the 48th in the English top flight. United have won 23 times, drawing nine times with City winning 15 times. United have scored 68 goals against City, conceding 61. United have been awarded a total of four penalties, scoring three of them with City being awarded one penalty and failing to score it. United have kept 17 clean sheets against City with the Blue side of Manchester keeping 10 clean sheets. United’s players have been shown 81 yellow cards and seven red cards with City’s players shown 106 yellow cards and one red card. City are currently 14 points clear of United and to avoid falling further behind, United need to win this match.

Earlier this season, it was a 0-0 draw between United and City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League. United met City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, losing that match 2-0 at the start of January. Almost a year ago on the 8 March 2020, United and City met at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season. It was the last match that United played in front of supporters at home and they beat City 2-0 with Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay scoring the goals. Last season at the Etihad, played on the 7 December 2019, United were the victors with a 2-1 victory with Marcus Rashford opening the score from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute and Martial doubling the lead six minutes later. Nicolas Otamendi scored a consolation.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-1-2] Cavani and Rashford up top, Fernandes in behind; Diallo and James to come on in the second half and use their pace to frustrate City?

Manchester United face the biggest match of the Premier League season when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have drawn the last three matches in a row with the same 0-0 scoreline, which at this stage is a problem as United did not seem to be able to score any goals. Pep Guardiola’s City sit at the top of the Premier League, having a 14 point lead over United, which was not the case in January. Solskjaer’s side will need to find a way to break down the league leaders, which will be problematic as they are in great form, winning all of their last six matches, which will see them push to win the league at some point next month. United need to get a win on the board to save their season.

Last season, Solskjaer did the double over City, winning both at home and away, also beating them in one of the semi-final legs of the Carabao Cup, losing the other and seeing themselves knocked out of the competition, which was the same this season, although it was just a one-legged tie. United are unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions, their last seven in the Premier League. However, in the league, the majority of the last seven matches (six) were all draws which is not great form heading into the biggest match of the season for Solskjaer and his United squad. David De Gea looks to be out of action for the foreseeable future, after becoming a father so this will be an even bigger match for Dean Henderson.

How United have faired against Manchester City in the Premier League.

United and City have met 47 times in the history of the Premier League with this weekend’s Manchester derby the 48th in the English top flight. United have won 23 times, drawing nine times with City winning 15 times. United have scored 68 goals against City, conceding 61. United have been awarded a total of four penalties, scoring three of them with City being awarded one penalty and failing to score it. United have kept 17 clean sheets against City with the Blue side of Manchester keeping 10 clean sheets. United’s players have been shown 81 yellow cards and seven red cards with City’s players shown 106 yellow cards and one red card. City are currently 14 points clear of United and to avoid falling further behind, United need to win this match.

Earlier this season, it was a 0-0 draw between United and City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League. United met City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, losing that match 2-0 at the start of January. Almost a year ago on the 8 March 2020, United and City met at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season. It was the last match that United played in front of supporters at home and they beat City 2-0 with Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay scoring the goals. Last season at the Etihad, played on the 7 December 2019, United were the victors with a 2-1 victory with Marcus Rashford opening the score from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute and Martial doubling the lead six minutes later. Nicolas Otamendi scored a consolation.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Manchester City in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson has kept nine clean sheets in 14 appearances for United this season, which is a good record for the 23-year-old who is enduring his first season as a United goalkeeper. He is the future of the club and with David De Gea taking some time out after becoming a father this week, Henderson will have ample time to show Solskjaer what he is capable of. Last season at Sheffield United, Henderson faced City twice, since ding three goals in the 2-0 and 1-0 defeats home and away. At United, he will be seeking to have a good appearances against the Premier League leaders with United needing a win to claw back some of City’s 14 point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence will need to continue their current form against City, keeping three clean sheets in their last three matches is a positive, in fact it is the only positive. United got a draw against City earlier in the season and could use that tops for a good result at the Etihad for the second time in two seasons. Last season, United beat City home and away and with a point already gained against City this season, there is some positivity to look towards. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places at fullback with Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire in the centre of defence. Shaw was recently named as United’s player of the month for February and he will be seeking to continue his fine form this season.

Midfield: Fred, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay

A midfield three might be better for United against City as they will need to defend well, which is something Nemanja Matic can do well, despite his lack of pace, run the midfield and get balls to the attacking players. Fred has bee criticised over the past week or so for not doing much other than running. His shots on goal are poor and perhaps he needs to go back to the basics and man-mark, which is something he has done well at stages this season. Scott McTominay is having a good season, with five goals scored so far this season and he will be well up for getting a good result against City this weekend, guiding his tea, to a positive result against the Premier League leaders. United need to step up and this match would be the perfect match to do just that.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes has scored 22 goals and 13 assists so far this season and in the last three matches, he has not been able to inspire United to victory, like he has done so many times since he arrived at the club in January 2020. Players are able to have a few off matches, that is all part of football but he will need to find the root cause of his problems and get to the bottom of them. Each and every player on the pitch will need to do the same. United need to get back to winning ways and doing that at the expense if City will be good for the club and inspire them to keep fighting this season. United have a lot of negative supporters right now, who seem to know more than everyone else. Shutting them up this weekend would be great to see. Especially the shouty man.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford

Edinson Cavani is United’s best forward this season, despite the fact he has not yet scored more than seven goals and two assists, which is still a good return as the goals have been coming elsewhere on the pitch. Seeing the Uruguayan run riot at the Etihad, just like Robin van Persie, would be great to see this weekend – fingers crossed. Solskjaer should change the shape United for this match, choosing two forward playing together, which might create more chances for United. Cavani will get more space on the pitch, which could in turn create goalscoring opportunities for other players and even himself. Marcus Rashford should partner him up top, which could see some pace and ability with Fernandes pulling the strings in terms of creation.

Substitutes: Lee Grant; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek, Shola Shoretire; Mason Greenwood

United can name nine substitutes on the bench in the Premier League, using three of them during the course of the match. Solskjaer will need to get things right, which may be problematic with the likes of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata on the sidelines through injury. David De Gea is also missing, which means Lee Grant will be the substitute goalkeeper for this match. Nathan Bishop might even get a chance on the bench, if Grant is coaching, which is what he has been doing recently. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be available. In midfield, Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek and Shola Shoretire could be options with Mason Greenwood the only attacking player on the bench, if Anthony Martial is not fit.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Solskjaer needs to set United up to beat City to get back on track; after three draws, these players need to stand up and be counted

Manchester City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Sunday 7 March 2021, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: Mike Dean

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

Manchester United face the biggest match of the Premier League season when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have drawn the last three matches in a row with the same 0-0 scoreline, which at this stage is a problem as United did not seem to be able to score any goals. Pep Guardiola’s City sit at the top of the Premier League, having a 14 point lead over United, which was not the case in January. Solskjaer’s side will need to find a way to break down the league leaders, which will be problematic as they are in great form, winning all of their last six matches, which will see them push to win the league at some point next month. United need to get a win on the board to save their season.

Last season, Solskjaer did the double over City, winning both at home and away, also beating them in one of the semi-final legs of the Carabao Cup, losing the other and seeing themselves knocked out of the competition, which was the same this season, although it was just a one-legged tie. United are unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions, their last seven in the Premier League. However, in the league, the majority of the last seven matches (six) were all draws which is not great form heading into the biggest match of the season for Solskjaer and his United squad. David De Gea looks to be out of action for the foreseeable future, after becoming a father so this will be an even bigger match for Dean Henderson.

Manchester United: DDDWWD

Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D, Real Sociedad 0-0 D, Newcastle United 3-1 W, Real Sociedad 4-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D

Manchester City: WWWWWW

Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 W, West Ham United 2-1 W, Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 W, Arsenal 1-0 W, Everton 3-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 W

Top Scorers: Manchester United have not scored a single goal in their last three matches; Fernandes and Rashford have 40 goals between them this season.

Manchester United Goals: 22 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek

United have drawn their last three matches in a row with the same 0-0 scoreline, which is poor. Against Crystal Palace earlier in the week, it seemed that United were devoid of confidence and had no ability to breakdown the home side, which is a major worry heading into the second Manchester derby of the season with United needing a win so badly. Solskjaer’s side have not been defeated in their last ten matches in all competitions and still have their good form away from home, which leave some hope left on the table for a good result to keep their away form record running. Solskjaer will need to get his squad to stand up and be counted against the Premier League leaders.

Manchester City Goals: 13 – Ilkay Gündogan, Raheem Sterling, 11 – Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, 8 – Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, 5 – Bernardo Silva, 4 – John Stones, 3 – Kevin De Bruyne, 2 – Sergio Agüero, João Cancelo, Kyle Walker, 1 – Nathan Aké, Liam Delap, Rúben Dias, Fernandinho, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Rodri

City are the team to beat this season. Back in January, with them playing fewer matches than United, they were languishing outside of the top four with United climbing to the top of the Premier League table. United’s form dropped and it allowed City to open up a 14 point lead over them at the top of the table, which is some comeback for Guardiola’s side. City have won their last six matches, scoring 15 goals, conceding three and keeping three clean sheets, which is the form of a club that is seeking to regain the Premier League title after Liverpool won it last season. United are still in the race but as each draw happens, their chances dip and it seems unlikely, as it did back in January when they topped the league. There has been progress though.

Team News: Four players ruled out for United with three more subject to late fitness tests ahead of the Manchester derby; City have no injury worries with one players close to returning to action at this stage of the season.

Phil Jones (knee), David De Gea (personal), Juan Mata (other) and Paul Pogba (thigh) have all been ruled out of the clash with City this weekend, which is a blow with De Gea being out of action, but he became a father for the first time on Thursday, so he should spend time with his new family. Victor Lindelof (lower back) seems to have suffered a recurrence of his injury, although he was on the bench in the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening. Anthony Martial (knee) was missing earlier in the week and has a 50% chance of recovering in time to face City whereas Donny van de Beek (other) was also missing but he has only a 25% chance of being fit to face City, which leave United with a few problems to solve this weekend.

Nathan Ake was the only player on the sidelines for City heading into the second Manchester derby of the season. The central defender looks to be in contention for the clash at the Etihad Stadium having a 75% chance of being fit in time for the 16:30 kick-off on Sunday. City have a strong team and have done for the past few years with Guardiola doing all the right things to set his team up domestically. United will have a big task on their hands to get a good result against the Noisy Neighbours but it is a possibility. United players will need to be fired up to face their rivals, who are 14 points ahead of them in the Premier League table. Solskjaer will need to get his tactics right and the players will need to stand up and be counted.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford to lead the line against City, supported by Bruno Fernandes; Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay to play in a three-man midfield?

Solskjaer has few options at this stage of the season with four players ruled out of this match and three more not yet fit to take part, which could change before Sunday come around. Edinson Cavani returned from injury during the week and looks set to keep his place in the team. Solskjaer should perhaps chance the shape of the team, using two forwards instead of one and letting the fullbacks provide the width, to see if it gives them any luck against City, who will be pushing United into their own half to take charge of the clash. A midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay is the best we can hope for at this stage with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw in defence with Dean Henderson in goal.

Match Prediction: United and City will meet for the 48th time in the Premier League on Sunday. United have won 23 times, drawing nine and losing 15 but City will be the team to beat this season.

United and City have met 47 times in the history of the Premier League with this weekend’s Manchester derby the 48th in the English top flight. United have won 23 times, drawing nine times with City winning 15 times. United have scored 68 goals against City, conceding 61. United have been awarded a total of four penalties, scoring three of them with City being awarded one penalty and failing to score it. United have kept 17 clean sheets against City with the Blue side of Manchester keeping 10 clean sheets. United’s players have been shown 81 yellow cards and seven red cards with City’s players shown 106 yellow cards and one red card. City are currently 14 points clear of United and to avoid falling further behind, United need to win this match.

Earlier this season, it was a 0-0 draw between United and City in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League. United met City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, losing that match 2-0 at the start of January. Almost a year ago on the 8 March 2020, United and City met at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season. It was the last match that United played in front of supporters at home and they beat City 2-0 with Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay scoring the goals. Last season at the Etihad, played on the 7 December 2019, United were the victors with a 2-1 victory with Marcus Rashford opening the score from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute and Martial doubling the lead six minutes later. Nicolas Otamendi scored a consolation.

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Henderson, Lindelof, Pogba, Fernandes, Martial and Rashford start against City in the Carabao Cup semi-final

Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City once again in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to push his team into their first final. This evening, it will be the second Manchester derby of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United reaching the same stage of the competition that they did last season, seeking to get further this season – it being the fourth semi-final Solskjaer has managed the club, losing the previous three. Last season, this was a two-legged match but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a one off tie this season.

The final this season has been delayed until April, giving supporters a chance to be at Wembley instead of the match being played behind closed doors, as is the case in the country at this time. The match will kick of at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports. United have seemingly turned a corner this season with an uptick in form and results, being that Solskjaer’s side are undefeated in their last six matches, winning five and drawing once, which was against Leicester City on Boxing Day. United and City drew 0-0 at Old Trafford some weeks ago too.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Fernandes;

Martial, Rashford

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe; Mata, James, Matic, Van de Beek; Greenwood

Manchester City:

Steffen;

Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko;

Fernandinho, Gundogan;

Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden;

Sterling

Substitutes:

Trafford; Walker, Mendy, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete; Rodrigo, Nmecha; Jesus, Aguero

United and City have met 18 times in domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup). United have won 10 times, drawing once times and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals against with City scoring 26 goals. United have kept five clean sheets against their noisy neighbours in cup competitions. United have faced City nine times in the FA Cup and nine times in the League Cup (now the Carabao Cup). In the League Cup, United have won four times, drawing once and losing four times, scoring 11 goals and conceding 14. In the FA Cup, United have won six times, losing three times, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. United and City last met in a cup competition last season.

In the Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 season, United and City were drawn against each other at this same stage, the semi-final. Back then, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, this was a two-legged fixture. In the first match, which was played at Old Trafford, City won 3-1 with Bernardo Silva (17), Riyad Mahrez (33) and an Andreas Pereira own goal (39) all coming in the first half. Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal in the 70th minute. In the second leg, played at the Etihad, it was a 1-0 victory for United with the only goal of the match scored by Nemanja Matic in the 35th minute with United losing 3-2 on aggregate, which was a shame. United will be seeking to avenge that first semi-final defeat last season, aiming to win this one.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-1-2-1-2] Wan-Bissaka and Telles to provide width with Pogba controlling the midfield and Fernandes supporting the attack?

Manchester United will go head to head with Manchester City once again in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to push his team into their first final. On Wednesday evening, it will be the second Manchester derby of the season at the Theatre of Dreams with United reaching the same stage of the competition that they did last season, seeking to get further this season – it being the fourth semi-final Solskjaer has managed the club, losing the previous three. Last season, this was a two-legged match but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a one off tie this season.

The final this season has been delayed until April, giving supporters a chance to be at Wembley instead of the match being played behind closed doors, as is the case in the country at this time. The match will kick of at 19:45 GMT and will be broadcast live in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports. United have seemingly turned a corner this season with an uptick in form and results, being that Solskjaer’s side are undefeated in their last six matches, winning five and drawing once, which was against Leicester City on Boxing Day. United and City drew 0-0 at Old Trafford some weeks ago too.

How United have faired against Manchester City in the domestic cups (FA Cup and the League Cup).

United and City have met 18 times in domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup). United have won 10 times, drawing once times and losing seven times. United have scored 29 goals against with City scoring 26 goals. United have kept five clean sheets against their noisy neighbours in cup competitions. United have faced City nine times in the FA Cup and nine times in the League Cup (now the Carabao Cup). In the League Cup, United have won four times, drawing once and losing four times, scoring 11 goals and conceding 14. In the FA Cup, United have won six times, losing three times, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. United and City last met in a cup competition last season.

In the Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 season, United and City were drawn against each other at this same stage, the semi-final. Back then, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, this was a two-legged fixture. In the first match, which was played at Old Trafford, City won 3-1 with Bernardo Silva (17), Riyad Mahrez (33) and an Andreas Pereira own goal (39) all coming in the first half. Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal in the 70th minute. In the second leg, played at the Etihad, it was a 1-0 victory for United with the only goal of the match scored by Nemanja Matic in the 35th minute with United losing 3-2 on aggregate, which was a shame. United will be seeking to avenge that first semi-final defeat last season, aiming to win this one.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson has played in all of United’s Carabao Cup matches this season and this should be no different. David De Gea has an important part to play for United in the Premier League and beyond so in the cup matches, Henderson should be given the chance. Of course, with this match being against City, it is possible that De Gea will start, leaving Henderson for the Watford match in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, so there is still an option for him to play a part in the cup competitions. Personally, seeing De Gea play ahead of him, having seen United get this far, keeping three clean sheets, would not be great.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence has stepped up their game this season. Eric Bailly has been a stand out performer in the past couple of matches since Victor Lindelof has been on the sidelines through a lower back injury. Against City, I would expect both Bailly and Harry Maguire to start in the centre of the defence flanked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles. Wan-Bissaka has been a defensive rock the majority of the time for United with calls, even from myself, for him to do more in attack. Telles’ experience will be welcome against City, whilst will hopefully see him turn a corner after some bad performances so far this season.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba

A three-man midfield against City could go a long way to putting United into their first final under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United have played in three semi-finals, losing them all so far and will be seeking to turn this one around after being beaten at the same stage by City last season, 3-2 on aggregate. This being a one-off match could see a much different result. Fred should play as the defensive minded player with Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba playing a more midfield game, connecting the defence to the attack, which will see Wan-Bissaka and Telles play the width going forward.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes is the man in form this season, scoring 15 goals and 11 assists so far this season – 26 goal contributions. Those that are jealous of the player will mock his penalty scoring to try to suggest United have been cheating but VAR has been at play and it is perfectly fine the United are winning penalties. It is not as if another team, Leicester City, have been rewarded well this season too, is it? Fernandes is a baller and despite the odd poor match where he doesn’t score or assist, he plays a passive part and leads from the front. Some say he should be the captain, but he’s one of the leaders in the team, which is fine the way it is.

Forwards: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Anthony Martial has now scored five goals this season with Rashford scoring 14 – 19 goals between them. The duo have assisted four times each, making 27 goal contributions between them. United rarely play with two forwards at the moment but I believe this enhances the squad, given that Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo and the suspended Edinson Cavani are amongst the ranks, for the rest of this month at least in respect of Ighalo. United should be able to thrive with Rashford and Martial being fed by Fernandes and even Pogba, which should see United reign in the Carabao Cup this season, at least getting to the final.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo

The Carabao Cup have announced that all teams in the semi-final stage of the competition will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench, as is now the case in the Premier League, using five of them, which is great as United have just come out of a tough December and could face a tough January with as many as nine matches to be played and as few as eight. David De Gea should be on the bench, just in case he is needed against the noisy neighbours. In defence, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe should be sufficient. In midfield, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic could all be options with Mason Greenwood and Odion Ighalo in the bench in an attacking sense, if United need them late in the match.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW