The Manchester Derby is down the horizon and once again, the stakes are incredibly high for this fixture, as they usually are. Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has a few worries that he wishes to deal with via a big win at the Old Trafford, while Erik Ten Hag’s redemption season with Manchester United seems to be on a massive upward curve since the FIFA World Cup 2022 ended. There are only positives for the Reds and things to worry for the blues as it stands, but you never know what transpires once the game begins.
For Manchester United, this is a season to turn things around in their favor for the first time, possibly since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite getting off to a slow start by losing two consecutive games to Brighton and Brentford early on in the season, Ten Hag’s Reds have been on the march ever since, winning 20 out of 25 matches in all competitions. He also became the fastest United manager to get to 20 wins.
Since the World Cup ended and club football resumed, they have been on a roll. They have registered six wins in six games across three domestic competitions, including three wins and three cleansheets in the Premier League. The fans are beginning to believe that glory days might just be on the horizon and a few optimistic ones are even dreaming of a PL title, which isn’t entirely far away from reach as Arsenal are nine points away with multiple tough fixtures coming up in the next few weeks.
However, Erik Ten Hag’s realistic chances of silverware in debut season lies in the League Cup, where they are now the favourites having reached the final four. They are also doing well in the FA Cup and Europa League, but some tough fixtures there will keep the fans on the edge of their seat. Interestingly, as clickbaity as it sounds, they’re the only English side this season with a shot at four different trophies right now.
Manchester City have their own concerns having dropped a point against Everton at home. However, they redeemed themselves a bit with a win against Chelsea, which came courtesy of a solo goal from Riyad Mahrez.
The Spanish coach continues to depend on Erling Haaland, who tends to score and score every game, taking his current Premier League tally to 21 goals. However, there’s something missing in that ascendancy for the light blues. They find themselves five points away from table-toppers Arsenal, managed by Pep Guardiola’s former understudy Mikel Arteta. The student has become the master and now, the master has a problem to solve.
While the aura of Manchester City, who are looking to become the second team in Premier League history to win a hat-trick of titles after Manchester United, can be quite threatening for most teams, they haven’t been the same force as they were in the last two seasons despite adding such great players to the squad. Adding to it is their recent defeat against Southampton in the League Cup quarterfinal, which only has added further misery to Guardiola’s side, who have lost shape entirely after the World Cup.
Manchester City, not to forget, produced a rampant performance in the reverse fixture this season. They smashed United 6-3 with hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden, and despite United attempting to pull things back with three strikes in the second half, the damage was already done. The onus for Ten Hag will be to avoid such a brisk start wherein they concede early.
MUN vs MCI, Premier League 2022/23
Date: January 14, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM IST
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United Premier League form:
Manchester United form (all competitions):
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Manchester United wins: 77
Manchester City wins: 58
Manchester United team news:
Ten Hag is hopeful Man United right-back Diogo Dalot will be fit to play on Saturday after being taken off in the first half against Charlton with a hamstring problem, while Donny Van de Beek and Axel Tuanzebe are ruled out due to injury.
Jadon Sancho is also unlikely to feature as he continues his individual fitness programme, but Ten Hag is able to welcome back Bruno Fernandes, who missed the win over Charlton due to suspension, and the playmaker is expected to join Casemiro and Christian Eriksen in midfield.
Rashford, who has scored in all six of United’s games since the World Cup break, is poised for a recall to the first XI along with Raphael Varane – who was rested in midweek – and Luke Shaw, with Alejandro Garnacho, Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia all set to drop to the substitutes’ bench.
While a winter-window move for striker Wout Weghorst appears to be on the verge of completion, it remains to be seen whether he will be registered in time for the 12:30pm kickoff on Saturday; nevertheless, Anthony Martial is expected to lead the line from the start after being rested in midweek.
Manchester City team news:
As for Man City, Ruben Dias remains out with a hamstring injury, while fellow centre-back John Stones was not fully fit to feature against Southampton, but should recover in time to start at Old Trafford.
Indeed, the 28-year-old’s inclusion will likely see Kyle Walker return to right-back after he was handed a surprise start as a central defender against the Saints, while Nathan Ake may be preferred over Joao Cancelo and Sergio Gomez to begin at left-back.
Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri are expected to return to centre-midfield, with Cole Palmer and Kalvin Phillips set to drop out of the first XI, while Haaland – the top scoring player across Europe’s top-five leagues with 21 goals – will lead the line in attack.
Riyad Mahrez has scored nine goals when coming off the bench under Guardiola, the most of any substitute in the Spaniard’s entire managerial top-flight career, but the in-form Algerian could be recalled to the first XI on Saturday after being given a rest in midweek, with either Foden, Jack Grealish or Julian Alvarez completing the front three.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Akanji, Ake; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish
Manchester City have won the most matches at Old Trafford among any Premier League club since the tournament was revamped in 1992-93. They have picked up eight wins over the years, the highest for any team. They also stand a chance of completing a double for the first time since they did it in 2018-19. United have conceded 12 goals in their last three Premier League meetings against City, which will brim the blues with confidence that they can pull off a double.
This match will be Pep Guardiola’s 500th as a top tier manager and his players would love to reward him with a 380th league win of his career. None of Europe’s top five leagues have seen a manager maintain such high win percentage as the Spaniard (76%). Haaland and Foden will be chasing an elusive record, to become the first City player to score in both league derby games since Sergio Aguero.
However, there has been significant improvement in the way Manchester United have operated this season. No team has won as many points in the Premier League after they lost to Brentford 4-0, having cooped 35 points out of a possible 45. There are enough signs to suggest they are on the team on the ascendancy and will make City’s life a hell lot difficult on the pitch.
The prediction is for Manchester United to scamper through with a 2-1 win.