The first Manchester Derby of the season bore witness to nine goals, six of which went in the favour of Pep Gurdiola’s side as the reigning Premier League champions secured a comprehensive 6-3 victory. Since that mauling in early October, Manchester United have started to find rhythm under Erik ten Hag — and more importantly, consistency.
City were relentless in that showing at the Etihad, with Erling Haaland baring his teeth on an afternoon of final-third devastation as his attacking exploits yielded the third of his three hat-tricks this season. It was an exhibition in the art of goalscoring from the consummate finisher.
His acquisition in the summer made City’s title defence seem a formality this campaign, but table-topping Arsenal have proven an itch that just won’t go away in the fight for first, making this weekend’s showdown about more than just local bragging rights.
For Man Utd, a result here also seems a non-negotiable requirement. Having positioned themselves in the Champions League places across the past few weeks — capitalising on Tottenham’s stuttering form — the Red Devils will want to keep their standing in the top four as they attempt to reseat themselves at Europe’s elite dining table.
A win here would see them move to within just one point of their rivals, with Erik ten Hag confident of his side’s abilities.
“I think we can compete with every team but obviously Manchester City, when they’re at their best, they are hard opponents for everyone, but we have to play our best and then we have a chance.” he told Talksport.
“It’s up to us to have a good team, the right co-operation, the right attitude on the pitch, especially if you talk about attitude. So a winning attitude. That is what we need on Saturday.”
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Manchester United v Manchester City match stats
Many pundits and analysts will naturally draw attention to the frightening scoring forms of both Marcus Rashford for Man Utd and Haaland for Man City. But, this game could very well be determined in the centre of the pitch. A fascinating battle is set to take place in the middle of the park between City’s metronomic conduit Rodri and Utd’s graceful hatchet-man Casemiro. Both players are equally adept at breaking up play, as they are with setting the tempo.
It’s no wonder then that both Casemiro (45) and Rodri (37) have registered more tackles than any other ‘Big Six’ players in the Premier League this season. Their ability to disrupt the flow and passing rhythm of the opposition will be crucial to getting a footing in this contest. For Casemiro, it is something he will have to do if Utd are to suppress and stifle Guardiola’s midfield general, who has registered more passes than any other player this term (1,488).
Not that a game of this magnitude needs an added depth of flavour, but Guardiola’s recent admittance that he may field an experimental side against Man Utd has certainly amped up the intrigue.
The City boss was feeling particularly mischievous when he explained: “I would like to arrive against United with all the players having a similar amount of minutes in their legs, because I have a few ideas and thoughts . . . ridiculous ones for the match against United, but I still haven’t watched their past few games,” Guardiola said.
“I have to see the way they play at home and if they changed something [under Erik ten Hag]. I still have to review it. That is why I don’t have a clear line-up against United.”
Manchester United v Manchester City: Squawka Says
Scoreline prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City
12:30 pm Saturday January 14
Manchester United 1-2 Manchester CityPremier League
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06 Mar 2022 – Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United – Premier League
06 Nov 2021 – Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City – Premier League
07 Mar 2021 – Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United – Premier League
06 Jan 2021 – Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City – League Cup
It was a wonderful display of unfiltered attacking carnage at the Etihad back in October, as City tore through their adversaries at free will. Phil Foden scored the first and last for the hosts, with his strikes sandwiched between Haaland’s hat-trick. Antony got off the mark in the derby for Man Utd with a goal in the second half, while Anthony Martial notched a late brace to expose vulnerabilities in City’s armoury. That late flurry will give them confidence this weekend.
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