Manchester United and Manchester City do battle this weekend, in the stellar tie of week 10 of the Premier League campaign. Only two points separate the sides going into the fixture, but points aren’t the only thing at stake – it’s bragging rights as well. Both sides have star-studded squads, but which players will be most influential going into the derby?
Three points is a must for both teams as they both vie to sit top of the league after the weekend’s fixtures. The Red Devils have the better record in the Manchester derby, with United winning 33, as opposed to City’s 18, and 25 of the fixtures resulting in draws. In recent years, City have got the better of their local rivals, many football fans will remember the 6-1 drubbing Manchester City gave United at Old Trafford in 2011. This was the start of a run of three straight derby victories, which came to an end in the sides’ last encounter. When Manchester United trounced City 4-2.
Injuries are a real issue for City currently going into the derby. The influential David Silva and star striker Sergio Aguero will both be missing. This will definitely affect their attacking potential, but they have able deputies. Wilfried Bony got two needed goals last weekend against Bournemouth, which will boost his confidence going into the game at Old Trafford. Raheem Sterling off the back of a Premier League hat-trick will be looking to put in similar performances for Liverpool in Merseyside derbies. Furthermore, Kevin De Bruyne is a danger Manchester United will have to deal with. He has proven why City forked out so much money for him already this season. In just eight games for City, the Belgian has found the net five times as well as providing five assists.
The battle of the defences is an intriguing one this weekend. A lot depends on the form of Captain Vincent Kompany, who was terrific at the start of the season. Time will tell if he can rekindle his form from recent injury setbacks. Kompany’s partner in the central defence is also an issue. Nicolás Otamendi has not lived up to the price tag as of yet while Eliaqium Mangala has tendencies to be rash, but looked solid with Kompany at the beginning of the season. That leaves Martin Demichelis who has done a job on occasion for City but he will struggle to be able to keep up with United’s pace as well as the others.
For United, Chris Smalling has been a behemoth at the back, a metamorphic change from the Chris Smalling United saw in seasons past. The Manchester derby last season is pinpointed by many as the point where we saw this change in the young Englishman, after his ludicrous red card which ultimately cost United the game. David De Gea has arguably been the best goalkeeper in the league for many seasons now, after his Real Madrid transfer saga was eventually put to bed. He has produced moments of brilliance this season, and brings much need dependency and solidity to the United defence.
Manchester United looked a totally different side against Everton on Saturday. After the shambolic display away to Arsenal, Louis Van Gaal’s team were sublime away to Everton. The selections of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera seem integral for United’s chances this weekend following their performances at Goodison Park. Herrera adds a tempo to the United side, which not many others in the squad can offer. The Spaniard constantly keeps play going and brings the play forward into the attacking third. Whereas Schneiderlin gives much needed cover to the back four and provides links between defence and attack.
Wayne Rooney did himself a lot of favours, by getting a goal against his former club this weekend, bagging his first away goal for Manchester United in 11 months. Many United fans will be hoping he can lead the side to victory, yearning for a replica performance of the 2011 derby where Rooney scored that iconic bicycle kick to win the match.
Finally a preview of the game would be incomplete without considering the man of the moment for Manchester United; Anthony Martial. Recently named the Premier League player of the month, Martial has hit the ground running since arriving on transfer deadline day from Monaco. The teenage sensation has taken to the Premier League by storm already scoring three goals in five games. It will be interesting to see if he can handle the pressure of his first Manchester derby.
Both sides have shown fine form this season, and put in performances which have proven why they are at the top of the league. The Manchester sides have proven quality in their ranks and there are definitely goals in both sides. It will most certainly be a cagey affair at Old Trafford. However Manchester derbies never seem to be dull games, and this one should be no exception. The winner of this fixture can claim the city going forward until the sides meet again in the league in March. The city will either continue to be red or turn blue for the rest of year following Sunday’s fixture.
Live Sunday 25th Ocotober 2015 on Sky Sports 1 & Sky Sports 1 HD at 14:05
- images from mcfc.co.uk, The Express, The Guardian, The Metro