Who: Manchester United vs Manchester City
When: Saturday, December 12th @ 12:30pm ET
Line: Manchester United +335 | Draw +300| Man City -130
Manchester United head into the Manchester Derby at an all-time low. After a shocking elimination from the Champions League, their recently built momentum has been shattered. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have displayed the resolve to pick themselves up from adversity this season & will look to get back on their feet against rivals Manchester City.
The Red Devils might be on a 4-match winning streak in the Premier League, but their home form remains questionable. City are yet to impress in a big game themselves this season and aim to prove their might by humbling their enemy. With United desperate for a big home win, this should be a thrilling contest in which the side making least errors prevails.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Matic, Van de Beek, Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford
Anthony Martial & Edinson Cavani both missed the RB Leipzig clash due to injury and could be touch & go. Paul Pogba should remain benched after his agent’s recent comments, while Luke Shaw could start after playing for an hour on Tuesday.
Manchester City Likely XI
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Aguero
The good news for City is Sergio Aguero is back from injury! The Citizens have no injury troubles before the big game.
Manchester United vs Manchester City preview
Coming at the back of a bitter elimination from the UCL, United probably wouldn’t have preferred to face Man City in their next game! But with Solskjaer under the pressure to perform again with questions around his ability as their manager, the Red Devils might just produce something surprisingly good at Old Trafford.
To redeem their failures against Leipzig, United need to produce something really special to win over the trust of their fans. That means full-blown attacking soccer which they have really struggled to produce at home this season. It’s time to turn around their abysmal form at Old Trafford and make the Theatre of Dreams spark once again.
Ole will mostly go with a 4-4-2 diamond formation again due to the absence of Cavani & Martial. With City opting to play a more possession-based style, the 4-man midfield can actually work really well in United’s favour. Bruno Fernandes will again be their creator-in-chief, hounding City’s midfielders & getting the ball forward.
Bruno’s also responsible for opening up opportunities his forwards & make those delightful through-balls he’s been creating as of late. Of course, with his hunger for scoring, he’ll also look to be a nightmare with persistent shots at goal & play as a real fox in the box. Marcus Rashford & Mason Greenwood failed to impress as a duo on Tuesday and have much to do to redeem themselves.
Rashford loves scoring against City (scored twice last season) and aims to bring his big match spirit to the table. With his menacing pace & ability to outwit defenders, he can really destabilize City’s shaky backline & get all the chances in the final third. Greenwood, however, needs to be more clinical with his finishing – especially when he finds opportunities inside the box.
But to contain City’s menacing midfield of Kevin de Bruyne, IIlkay Gundogan & Rodri, United’s own midfielders need to turn up the heat. Fred should get a start after missing the last two games, as he’ll be that houndish, energetic figure to make key interceptions & get the ball forward. Donny van de Beek remains the press-resistant force in United’s midfield who’s clever link-up play as well as off the ball movement will be key in opening up City’s backline.
Nemanja Matic is going to act as the Red Devils’ brute force in midfield, looking to keep an eye on De Bruyne as well as make timely challenges to protect his backline. With the attacking talent City have, United’s defence have a humongous task on their hands if they’re to keep a clean sheet.
City’s frontline is a nightmare for any side, let alone a shaky backline like the Red Devils’. Aguero has always been United’s tormenter & aims to compound their misery by being the ruthless finisher he’s known to be. De Bruyne will also aim to take control of the game & create big chances on the fly, as well as drive City forward with confidence.
With Raheem Sterling & Riyad Mahrez having the ability to burst into the box and score goals for fun, United’s defensive shape has to be absolutely spot on if they’re to get another win over Pep Guardiola’s side on Saturday. But after conceding 3 goals in mid-week, questions are rising around the backline again.
Harry Maguire & Aaron Wan-Bissaka were dreadful against Leipzig & have a lot to prove. Wan-Bissaka has another chance to pocket Sterling & earn back his admiration, as he’ll need to turn into that tackling machine to nullify City’s threat down his wing.
Maguire needs to start acting more like a leader. He’ll be forced to showcase his reflexes & make better decisions in the backline against the more grounded, fast-paced attacking style of the Citizens. Luke Shaw has to stay focused to keep Mahrez quiet, while Victor Lindelof also must be more proactive in responding to danger more often inside the box.
If United are sloppy like they were against RB Leipzig, they’re in for another humiliation at home. They must remain defensively perfect all throughout the game, get going on the front-foot & actually capitalize on their chances to scrape through an important win.
With United’s abysmal home form in PL & City not looking the best away from home either, this one’s a tough one to predict. While my brain’s calling for a City win, I’ll go with my heart and predict a 2-2 draw.