The Manchester derby is back for the third time this season, as Man City welcome Man Utd to the Etihad Stadium.
The two sides have met at Old Trafford twice already this campaign, with a 0-0 draw in the Premier League followed by a 2-0 City win in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, giving Pep Guardiola’s men the psychological edge coming into this encounter.
City sit top of the league with a 14 point lead following a record breaking run of 21 consecutive wins, and are now unbeaten in 28 in all competitions. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are on a run of four wins from their last 11 games, and have drawn last three matches 0-0 against Real Sociedad, Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
With title and top four implications at stake for both sides, it’s a must-watch game for anyone interested in football. Here’s 90min’s preview of the fixture.
When is the match? Sunday 7 March
What time is kick-off? 16:30 GMT
Where is it being played? Etihad Stadium
TV Channel: Sky Sports Premier League (UK)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
VAR: Paul Tierney
Manchester City have had fitness issues this season (like everyone) but are currently at near-full strength after welcoming back Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero in recent weeks. Their only remaining absentee is defender Nathan Ake, who has been missing with a hamstring injury since Boxing Day.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have done well with injuries but are now going through their worst spell of the season in terms of fitness. Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Phil Jones are ruled out, while Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial are doubts with muscle and knee problems respectively. Goalkeeper David De Gea will miss the next six games after returning to Spain for the birth of his first child, meaning Dean Henderson will get an extended run in the side.
Man City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Silva, Jesus, Sterling
Man United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani
Manchester UnitedCrystal Palace 0-0 Man Utd (3/3)
Chelsea 0-0 Man Utd (28/2)
Man Utd 0-0 Real Sociedad (25/2)
Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle (21/2)
Real Sociedad 0-4 Man Utd (18/2)
On paper, this game is only going to go in one direction. Guardiola’s side have looked unstoppable since the turn of the year and are among the best sides in Europe.
United are going through a tough spell where a severe lack of creativity is shining through right now. Without Pogba, the burden has been placed on Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, who both look exhausted and frustrated with recent fortunes on the pitch.
With that said, it’s a derby and we all know form goes out of the window in a derby. Solskjaer has beaten Man City more times at the Etihad than he has at Old Trafford and both teams will be aware that the styles and strengths of both teams suit the counter attack of United’s play.
Despite that, it’s hard to look past another City win. They’re so strong all over the pitch and with their squad pretty much at full strength, they have the options to turn the game around should it not be going their way. Defensively they’re solid and they should have enough about them to take all three points and local pride.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Manchester United