Manchester United will be looking to close down the gap between them and the top four as they face a daunting task against Manchester City at Etihad.
Manchester City have had a disappointing 2019-20 campaign by their own lofty standards. The defending Premier League champions have already lost pace with current leaders Liverpool, who now have stretched the gap to 11 points over Manchester City and 8 points over second-placed Leicester City.
Manchester United on the other hand, have proven they are good enough to compete against the BIG SIX, only faltering against the lower teams so far in the 2019-20 season. Their latest win came during the midweek in a 2-1 result over Tottenham, who are now being managed by former Manchester United man Jose Mourinho.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will now hope to come up trumps against another great manager as his Manchester United side go up against Pep Guardiola-led Manchester City. As the fans wait in anticipation in derby, we take a closer look at the two squads.
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Ilkay Gundogan returns from his suspension but the likes of Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte are still sidelined.
John Stones and Benjamin Mendy should come into the back four for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola should continue to field Fernandinho at centre-back over Nicolas Otamendi. Kyle Walker should retain his place for now, with Joao Cancelo likely to settle for a place on the bench.
Rodrigo will continue at the base of a midfield three, with Kevin De Bruyne the other certain one in middle of the park. The last spot should be a toss between David Silva and the returning Ilkay Gundogan, with Guardiola likely to bring in Gundogan to tackle United’s energy.
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus are all but confirmed as starters in attack. The last spot in attack should again be a direct toss-up between Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, with Guardiola likely to go with the creatively supreme Portuguese.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodrigo, Gundogan; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sterling
The back four kept Tottenham at bay for good lengths of the match, with the only goal for the away side coming in a flash of brilliance from Dele Alli. Solskjaer should retain the back four, with Ashley Young preferred over Brandon Williams due to experience.
Victor Lindelof played well and should partner Harry Maguire at the back, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka completing the four-man backline.
Scott McTominay has returned and Solskjaer has iterated the academy ace has now become ‘undroppable’. Fred was the star for United and should start in midfield alongside the Scottish international. Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James should be the support cast, with Mason Greenwood leading the Manchester United attack against Manchester City.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Young; McTominay, Fred; James, Lingard, Rashford; Greenwood
1. Manchester United have lost just one of their last four trips at Manchester City in the Premier League.
2. There has been a total of 16 goals in the last 5 Premier League games between Manchester City and Manchester United.
3. Both Manchester United and Manchester City come into the game on the back of a similar run of results, losing just one of their last five Premier League games.
4. Raheem Sterling has just one goal in his last five Premier League appearances for Manchester City.
5. Marcus Rashford has been in fine form, with 10 goals in his last 10 games for club and country combined.
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In 2019-20, Fred has averaged 11.49 defensive duels per 90 which ranks him 2nd in the Premier League and 12th in the whole of Europe.
His workrate in midfield has been incredible this season. pic.twitter.com/1A1oniRzAY
— UtdArena. (@utdarena) December 6, 2019
We all saw a revamped Manchester United side, with Scott McTominay back in the starting eleven. But, it was Fred who stole the show against Tottenham, finding teammates and dominating the midfield with the vigour that perhaps made United splurge heavily on the Brazilian.
Now, it will be important for Fred to string these performances, with consistency one of the things that differentiates Fred from a good player to a regular face in the starting eleven.
Manchester City 1-1 Manchester United
This Manchester United come good against the best of sides and in Manchester City, they are up against a side that achieved new heights in the 2018-19 season. While both teams are plagued by injury issues, we expect this to be a good affair, with United sitting back and trying to hit City on the counter.
Expect an open-ended game, with a draw the likeliest result. It won’t be a surprise if United do eke out a win, especially considering City’s recent run of results.