Old Trafford will provide the setting as Manchester United clash heads with local rivals Manchester City in the Premier League this weekend.
Manchester United will lock horns with bitter rivals Manchester City on Saturday afternoon, in one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures of Matchday 11 of the 2021/22 Premier League season.
While the two teams may be separated by just two positions and three points on the league table, they find themselves in completely contrasting situations. Manchester United are under intense pressure after a flurry of poor results over the past month, including a 5-0 hammering at the hands of traditional rivals, Liverpool.
The win against Tottenham last weekend brought some joy, but the display in the 2-2 draw versus Atalanta, in which they again had to rely on Cristiano Ronaldo to bail them out late in the game, left with more questions than answers. Another misstep this weekend against their neighbours could spell doom for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while a win would take them level on points with their opponents.
As for Manchester City, they have had to deal with a couple of setbacks of late, exiting from the Carabao Cup on penalties and then losing to Crystal Palace in the Premier League. But, Pep Guardiola & co. have not allowed those results to affect their performances as they made light work of Club Brugge in Europe to beat them 4-1.
Currently third in the table, a win in the derby would take the reigning Premier League champions past second-placed Liverpool and to two points within leaders Chelsea, who will be playing Burnley later on Saturday. The corresponding game in the last season had ended in a goalless draw, but Manchester United did get the better of Manchester City in the reverse fixture earlier this year.
Ahead of this exciting Manchester derby coming our way from Old Trafford, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams and how they could set up.
Team News & Tactics
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 5, 2021
Manchester United were handed a huge blow as Raphael Varane picked up another injury in the midweek clash against Atalanta and is set for a significant spell on the sidelines. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, hinted that Varane’s fellow centre-back Victor Lindelof could be in contention to feature after missing last time out. Paul Pogba is also ruled out due to suspension.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to persist with the three-man defensive unit on Saturday, having had success with such a setup against Manchester City in the past. David de Gea will be manning the goal for the 20-time English champions in what will be his 350th Premier League appearance – a joint record for Spanish players in the competition (along with Cesc Fabregas).
With Varane out of the reckoning, Lindelof should make his way back into the starting XI, partnering with Eric Bailly, who had a decent showing in midweek, and captain Harry Maguire, who is in a major slump. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw are the obvious choices in the full-back slots, and the latter will be in for an interesting battle up against Joao Cancelo on his side, with Kyle Walker a doubt for the game.
Scott McTominay and Fred are the go-to options for Solskjaer in the middle of the park, especially for the big games. And that is unlikely to change on Saturday night, with the duo tasked with adding more protection to the backline and playing quick, forward passes upon turnovers to initiate counters.
Cristiano Ronaldo, given his current form, is a guaranteed starter at the top. And while Edinson Cavani offers a great deal of industry and experience, Solskjaer could decide to go with Marcus Rashford as the Portuguese’s partner as United could use his pace on the break. The onus will be on Bruno Fernandes, operating just behind the duo, to release them with defence-splitting passes.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): De Gea; Bailly, Lindelof, Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, Fred McTominay, Shaw; Fernandes; Ronaldo, Rashford
Manchester City will have to make do without Ferran Torres for their trip to Old Trafford, while Aymeric Laporte also misses out after being sent off in the defeat to Crystal Palace. Youngster Liam Delap is recovering from an injury, while Benjamin Mendy has been suspended by the club. Finally, Kyle Walker is expected to be a touch-and-go for this contest due to a foot injury.
The England international might not be rushed back to action, meaning Joao Cancelo, who was sublime in the midweek clash, should start at right-back with Oleksandr Zinchenko lining up on the opposite flank. John Stones and Ruben Dias ought to form the central defensive pairing in the absence of Laporte, while Ederson Moraes is a certainty in goal.
Rodri will anchor the midfield for the reigning champions of England and hope to keep Bruno Fernandes quiet while the creativity and forward thrust ought to come from the attacking midfield duo of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
Manchester City will enjoy a lot of possession on Saturday afternoon, but for them to break open the hosts’ defence, Jack Grealish, who will operate on the left flank, will hold the key, with his movement and link-up play. Phil Foden, who ought to line up as the false-nine, will be crucial to the Cityzens’ chances as well, while Gabriel Jesus will be relishing the prospect of running at Harry Maguire on the right.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Jesus, Foden, Grealish
- Since the start of 2020, Manchester City have scored 151 goals in the Premier League, but none against Manchester United. Since January last year, the Red Devils have kept clean sheets in all three league meetings and four of the five meetings in all competitions.
- Manchester City are chasing an eighth Premier League win away to Manchester United, which would be the most by any club. They have won six of their last ten top-flight matches at Old Trafford (D2, L2).
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won four of his eight meetings with Pep Guardiola, the best ratio of any manager to face the Catalan at least five times.
- Raheem Sterling has made a career-high 23 appearances against Manchester United in all competitions. However, the England international has never scored against the Red Devils after playing 1,662 minutes and attempting 38 shots.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in 16 appearances against teams managed by Pep Guardiola – a tally which is bettered only by Jamie Vardy (9).
Player to Watch
👀 Harry Maguire is feeling the pressure at #mufc
— The United Takeover (@MUTakeover) November 5, 2021
After a fine campaign at the Euros with England, a lot was expected from Harry Maguire this season. However, the Manchester United skipper has struggled out on the pitch this term, getting caught out for pace and poor positioning time and again. The ex-Leicester defender has looked clumsy and disorganised regularly this term and has been easily exposed by the opposition.
His performances against Leicester, Liverpool and Atalanta this week were dismal at best. With Raphael Varane unavailable, Victor Lindelof returning from an injury, and Eric Bailly having not played a lot this term, the onus will be on the 28-year-old to step up and perform. However, it will be easier said than done, as the combination of Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo can tear him apart on his side come Saturday.
Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City
Manchester United have enjoyed the rub of the green in recent derbies in the Premier League, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finding a way to get the better of Pep Guardiola on several occasions. However, those results were built on defensive discipline and deadly counter. However, the former attribute cannot be seen in this current United side, who are leaking like a sieve at the back.
On the other hand, Manchester City did have a couple of bad results last week but bounced back in style against Club Brugge, hammering four goals past the Belgian outfit. Given the quality that they possess going forward, Guardiola’s men should be able to get past their neighbours and clinch a vital victory, putting further pressure on Solskjaer.