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Manchester Derby: Will United beat City?

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs Manchester City

Manchester United will look to reclaim the bragging rights of Manchester supremacy when they open the gates of Old Trafford to their neighbours Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.

City had won the first Manchester derby of the season 6-3, but the Citizens know it could be a much more difficult challenge this time around as Manchester United have been on a great run.

Erik ten Hag have inspired a fantastic response from his team following the 6-3 thrashing at the Etihad in early October.

The Red Devils have played 18 matches since then, and the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise stunning run.

The Aston Villa match is the only one United lost since the last Manchester derby, and they have won all six of their games following the World Cup restart.

The 3-0 win over Charlton Athletic midweek in the EFL Cup marked Ten Hag’s 20th victory as the Manchester United boss. He reached that milestone in only 27 matches. Not even Sir Alex Ferguson can match that feat.

But a more steadfast test of Manchester United’s credentials lies ahead as they are about to face Manchester City at home before travelling to Arsenal, who currently occupy the top spot in the standings. If they can pick up three points on Saturday, the prospects of a title charge will not sound much audacious anymore.

Man United are already fourth on the table, and a win against City will bring them within a point of their Manchester rivals.

Arsenal face a daunting challenge in their next match as they will travel beyond enemy lines to play Tottenham Hotspur in a North London derby. If Arsenal drops points on Sunday, United could be six or seven points away from the top spot with 20 rounds of Premier League action left to go.

Team News

Bruno Fernandes will be back in the lineup after sitting out the Charlton match to serve a one-match suspension.

Jadon Sancho has yet to recover match fitness, so he will sit out again. Raphaël Varane and Luke Shaw expect to return to the lineup after being rested midweek.

On the other hand, Manchester City come off the back of a bittersweet week.

They crushed Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup third round but fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat in the EFL Cup quarterfinal to Southampton.

Uncharacteristically, Manchester City players failed to register a single on-target shot throughout the 90 minutes.

It brought back the horrors of Man City’s embarrassing 3-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League quarterfinals five years ago. That night, Alisson Becker was untested on the Liverpool goal as Manchester City could not keep any of their attempts on target.

But the Premier League is a different proposition. So, Pep Guardiola is hopeful of getting a fully focused team ready to retain their Manchester glory.

They also know that more than city pride is at stake on Saturday, as a loss might potentially lead to Arsenal stretching their lead to eight points.

Rúben Dias will watch from the stands once again as he nurses a hamstring injury. John Stones could not make it to the Southampton match squad, but he should be cleared to start against United.

That means Kyle Walker will go back to his natural right-back spot. Sergio Gómez could be preferred over João Cancelo once again.

Our Prediction

Manchester City have an excellent record in Manchester derbies.

They have own more away matches at Old Trafford than any other teams in Premier League history.

Man United is a more organized and in-form unit now, than they were in October. But, Man City’s urgency to keep up with Arsenal and bounce back with a win following the Southampton defeat could propel the visitors to another derby win.

We say, Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United.

Kickoff: 15 January, 6 PM (IST)

Venue: Old Trafford

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