Manchester City travel to Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday, hoping to secure their second win at Old Trafford this season.
One of the surprising things about the reign of Pep Guardiola is how good Manchester City have been at Old Trafford, having won each of their last 3 visits. However, our record at the Etihad has been quite poor to balance things out.
City fans will be hoping our run at Old Trafford does not end this weekend, as few things are sweeter than a derby game victory, but all good runs come to an end eventually!
The harsh reality is that the result on Sunday may well be more important to United than City. City sit comfortably in second place in the Premier League, and are mid way through a run of difficult fixtures.
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United on the other hand sit some 15 points behind City in the table, locked in a tight battle for European qualification spots. In many ways their best chance of guaranteeing Champions League next season will be through our ban.
One of the features of the victories by United in recent derby games is that the football which has flourished has been counter attacking in nature. In many ways they will be more comfortable if we retain the possession and they seek opportunities on the break.
Since our last meeting they have added Bruno Fernandes to their line up and he looks to be adding some much needed quality to their play. Depending upon which publication you read, he has been described as the next Messi or Ronaldo.
He will certainly make them more deadly in transitions and in set pieces. However he does take risks and may just as well give the ball away as deliver a killer pass.
City approach the game in a good moment, where much changed sides have carved out some momentum. There are some injury worries – Kevin De Bruyne may well be out, suffering a shoulder injury in the Carabao Cup Final. He may well not be risked for this game.
Aymeric Laporte is absent with a hamstring and Leroy Sane is still on the comeback trail.
So, what will Pep Guardiola have in store for the team line up? Will Phil Foden start? Will Aguero? Will this be another false 9 or caution to the wind with 2 strikers?
Therein lies the difficulty for any fan previewing the game. City are hard to predict.
For what its worth, I expect City to line up from kick off in an unusual pattern just to confuse Ole, who was so easily confused last time out. I then believe City will change formations just to try and make Ole over think his approach.
That tactical mind game will try and seduce Ole into abandoning his own game plan. Whether it works or not will be interesting to observe. Of course, in the meantime we have to hope City bamboozle United on the pitch too.
Whilst I would love to see a big win, the recipe is set for a close game, where United’s more physical approach may cause us some trouble. Let us hope it causes the referee some trouble too, but I cannot honestly remember the last time they had a player sent off at Old Trafford!
As City fans we spent many years hoping to upset the apple cart by coming away from a derby game with an unlikely victory. Whole seasons were reduced to trying to nick a win against a superior United side. It is amusing to see the tide is reversed and it is United whose season is defined by these results.
This us the 4th derby game of the season and I have a feeling it wil not be the last. I have a sneaky suspicion we will meet again in the FA Cup and that the decade will end with a remarkable symmetry for how it began, by facing United at Wembley.
But right now the focus is on Old Trafford. Come on City!
Predicted Starting XI
Walker- Stones- Fernandinho- Mendy
Rodri- Gundogan- Bernardo
Foden- Aguero- Jesus