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The Manchester Derby Preview ⚽️

Sunday’s early kick-off will see Manchester United make the short trip to their neighbours in the first Manchester Derby of the season and the first of Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United career.  

The Red Devils are massive underdogs heading into this game @7.70. Given Man Utd’s improvement over the past 7 weeks, it could be seen as strange for them to be given little to no chance ahead of the game, but Man City, whose only loss this season came in the Community Shield, have played with such ferocity, it’s almost certain Pep Guardiola could become the first manager to win the Premier League title three times in a row since Sir Alex Ferguson did it in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  

Kevin de Bruyne has arguably been the best player in the Premier League over the past 5 seasons after leading Man City to league titles in 4 of those 5 years, yet the name on everyone’s lips right now is Erling Haaland’s. The Norwegian has settled into life in England with no problems at all, and with each passing week, he continues to tighten his grip on the metaphorical neck of the league as he keeps it in a chokehold. Pep Guardiola has played with some all-time greats in the striker position; Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry at Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich and Sergio Aguero in Man City. But, you must admit, there is something about having Erling Haaland that makes this team look borderline invincible. The sad news for Man Utd is, if they commit all their resources to stopping the Norwegian, there are other World Class talents in the squad more than capable of causing them significant damage.  

Regardless, Man Utd fans have a lot of reasons to be positive heading into this fixture. Erik ten Hag seems to have completely turned their season around from the disastrous 2 losses in August to a run of 5 wins in the last 6 in all competitions. Even more exciting for the team, their players performed well during the international break with Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen & Luke Shaw all getting on the scoresheet while Raphaël Varane, Lisandro Martínez, Casemiro and Scott McTominay put in solid defensive shifts for their respective countries. Even Louis van Gaal’s experiment of deploying Tyrell Malacia as a Centerback – in the Netherlands’ win over Belgium – in a bid to neutralise Kevin de Bruyne paid off. The same glowing remarks cannot be made about Cristiano Ronaldo, though. Despite the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner ending his goal drought just before the international break, he struggled for Portugal with many suggesting national team coach Fernando Santos take a leaf out of Erik ten Hag’s book and drop his captain. Cristiano Ronaldo’s run of underwhelming performances almost certainly means he’ll be left on the bench on Sunday. 

So far, Erik ten Hag has passed his two big tests; beating Liverpool in the North-West Derby and beating Premier League table toppers, Arsenal. However, Manchester City will undoubtedly present him with his toughest test yet as he faces Pep Guardiola under whom he worked while the pair were at Bayern Munich.  

 

Head-To-Head  

The Manchester Derby has been unpredictable in recent years despite Manchester City always going into the game as favourites. The Red Devils have won 5 of the last 13 meetings in all competitions while the Cityzens have won 7. However, last season was all about the Blue Half of Manchester with Pep Guardiola’s men winning both fixtures. An Eric Bailly Own Goal followed by a Bernado Silva far post finish gave Man City a 2-0 win when both sides met at Old Trafford – a scoreline that failed to capture the visitor’s dominance. At the Etihad, though, they ran out comfortable 4-1 winners with Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez each grabbing a brace to cancel out Jadon Sancho’s first half goal.  

  • Manchester City 4 – 1 Manchester United (6th March, 2022) 
  • Manchester United 0 – 2 Manchester City (6th November, 2021) 
  • Manchester City 0 – 2 Manchester United (7th March, 2021) 

 

Form  

Manchester City: Alongside 3rd placed Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester City are one of two unbeaten teams remaining in the Premier League this season. They’ve taken 11 points from a possible 15 in their last 5 league games with 3 wins and 2 draws. Sandwiched between those 5 league games are a pair of Champions League wins against Sevilla (4-0) and Borussia Dortmund (2-1). The reigning Premier League Champions have found the back of the net in every game this season with the 1-1 draw at Villa Park the only time they’ve not netted more than once. They’ve scored 29 goals in their 9 Premier League & UCL games; an average of 3.2 goals per game. The last time Man City failed to score a league goal was in the goalless draw away to Crystal Palace on the 14th of March, last season. League Form: W-D-W-W-D 

[Bet on Man City to win the Premier League @1.30] 

Manchester United: The Red Devils come into the Derby with a slightly better league form than their undefeated hosts. Erik ten Hag’s men have picked up 12 points from a possible 15 in their last 5 league games following their 4 wins in a row. However, there are understandable concerns that the momentum built by the Red Devils in the league might have stalled due the postponement of the games against Crystal Palace and Leeds United following the death of the Queen. This Derby comes 28 days after Man Utd’s last game in the Premier League; a 3-1 victory over league leaders, Arsenal. Since then, the Red Devils have played 2 games in the Europa League with one of them ending in a loss (at home to Real Sociedad) and the other, a 2-0 win away to Sheriff that saw Cristiano Ronaldo end his goal drought for the club from the penalty spot. League Form: W-W-W-W-L 

[Bet on Man Utd to make the Top 4 @2.50] 

Team News 

Manchester City: Centerbacks, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones (who was taken off for England on Monday) are major doubts as they battle a knee and a hamstring injury, respectively. New signing, Kalvin Phillips continues to endure a frustrating debut season for the reigning champions that has seen him play just 13 mins in all competitions due to multiple injuries, most recently one to his shoulder. Besides these 3, Pep Guardiola is expected to have all his first team players available including Kyle Walker who has missed the last 3 games – he featured in both UEFA Nations League games for England during the break. 

Possible Lineup: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, B. Silva; Foden, Mahrez, Haaland (4-3-3) 

Manchester United: The Red Devils have no major injury worries ahead of the derby but club captain, Harry Maguire is reported to have picked up a late injury during England’s 3-3 draw with Germany. Seeing as Maguire hasn’t started a club game since the 4-0 loss to Brentford, this wouldn’t be the biggest of misses for the visitors. The attacking duo of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are said to be very close to being fit for Sunday’s big game with the latter even tipped to start. Given his impact against Liverpool and Arsenal, Erik ten Hag will be hoping that Rashford would be part of that starting lineup when his side walks out of the tunnel at the Etihad.  

Possible Lineup: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; Casemiro, Fernandes, Eriksen; Sancho, Antony, Rashford (4-3-3)  

 

Key Players  

Erling Haaland (Manchester City): The Man City new signing has had a goal contribution in every Premier League and UCL game the hosts have played in this season with the Norwegian registering 14 goals and 1 assist in just 9 games. He’s scored in 8 of those 9 games with his only assist this season coming in the one game he didn’t score in; the 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Following his back-to-back EPL hat-tricks last month, Haaland picked up the Player of the Month award for August and his red-hot form has seen him become an early favourite for both the Premier League Golden Boot and the PFA Player of the Year award.  

[Bet on Erling Haaland to finish as Premier League‘s top goalscorer @1.25] 

Christian Eriksen (Manchester United): The Dane picked up the Man Utd Player of the Month award last week after a string of impressive performances for the club as he continues to enjoy his debut season. In a fairly new position, Eriksen has played a much deeper role in Erik ten Hag’s side and his contribution especially in attacking phases has been one of the major reasons for the club’s recent good form. He’s also found a way to fit in with Bruno Fernandes which was a concern at the start of the season given their similar position. While Man City exerted total dominance over Man Utd in both meetings last season, it was their control of the midfield that was key in those 2 games. If the Red Devils are to get anything from the Manchester Derby, they will need Eriksen to be at his very best in the heart of that midfield.  

Key Stats  

  • There has been just 1 draw between these two sides in the last 13 meetings with Man City winning 7 of those fixtures and Man Utd winning 5.  
  • The away side has won 21 times in Premier League meetings in the Manchester Derby – no fixture has been won by the visitors more often in the competition’s history.  
  • Man City are looking to win 3 consecutive Premier League games against Man Utd for the first time since they won 4 between April 2013 and November 2014. 
  • Man City have won their last 7 EPL home games scoring at least 3 goals in each game. The last team to win 8 straight top-flight home games while scoring 3+ goals were Tottenham back in 1965.  

 

Betting Tips 

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