Far more than bragging rights on the line in crunch Manchester derby
Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho will lock horns for the nineteenth time as managers in a crucial Manchester derby at the Etihad on Thursday. Guardiola has had the better of their previous encounters, winning 8 times compared with just 4 victories for his Portuguese counterpart, however, United are undefeated in their last 22 Premier League matches.
The race for those coveted top-four spots is really heating up and the this is the first of 3 critical away games for Mourinho’s side, who must also visit Spurs and Arsenal.
Team news & predicted line-ups for Man City v Man Utd
Mourinho proved that he is still the man for the big occasion by out-smarting Antonio Conte recently with an effective man-marking policy and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him deploying similar tactics in this one.
Both sides have injury worries ahead of the fixture, with United’s recording signing Paul Pogba struggling to make the encounter and City’s David Silva facing a race against time to be fit.
Goal projections – Man City 1.71 Man Utd 1.11
Latest Premier League match betting odds
Man City team news
John Stones is unlikely to be fit for the Citizens but Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero are expected to shake off their respective knocks and start. A late decision is also expected on David Silva.
Gabriel Jesus should make the bench, while the out of position Jesús Navas is expected to continue at right back.
Man City fantasy player to watch
Yaya Touré could be the key man for Guardiola given that Mourinho is likely to give Kevin de Bruyne some special attention.
The Ivorian will be looking to add to the 4 Premier League goals he has to his name this season and he may get plenty of freedom in the middle of the park.
Predicted Man City starting line-up (vs Man Utd)
Man Utd team news
Paul Pogba is not expected to feature for United after picking up a muscular injury in the 2-0 win at Burnley.
Despite the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, who both scored in the victory at Turf Moor, may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Marcus Rashford expected to lead the line for the Red Devils.
Man Utd fantasy player to watch
Daley Blind completed the 90 minutes against Burnley, recording a WhoScored rating of 7.96 in the process and he will need to be at his best if United are to repel the City attack.
He’s not the typical centre-back you would associate with a Mourinho team due to his physical limitations and lack of pace but in the absence of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo, the United manager has few alternatives, even though he has challenged two of the aforementioned trio to speed up their recovery!
Blind is capable of stepping out from the back and using his range of passing to good effect, so United may be able to expose City’s frailties, by utilising the electric pace of Rashford and Mkhitaryan.
Predicted Man Utd starting line-up (vs Man City)
Can United extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 23 games to give themselves a great chance of clinching one of those automatic Champions League spots or will Guardiola get the better of his old adversary once again?