Manchester United v Manchester City Preview | Team News, Stats and Key Men

Manchester United v Manchester City Preview | Team News, Stats and Key Men

Two teams that come from the same city, two teams with four Premier League crowns between them in the last four years will be battling for the bragging rights of Manchester for the 169th time, at Old Trafford on Sunday evening. For the first time in arguably one and a half years, Manchester United will go into this game in red hot form sitting above their ‘noisy neighbors’ in the league table. United are one of the most in-form sides in the league boasting a very good record at home with just two defeats and 13 victories in 16 games meaning they will approach this derby brimming with confidence unlike the previous season. Louis Van Gaal did reflect the mood in his side’s camp in his latest press conference where he seemed to acknowledge the ‘importance’ of winning the local derby and the potential lift that would give the Red Devils in this run-in to the end of the season. He said,

“Of course I dream of it [winning the derby], every player shall dream of it. When you win, the third place is now reachable, which months ago you all said was impossible. If we finish third, we are securely in the Champions League and one place better than our aims.”

Three losses in the last six league games has dented and in some ways evacuated Manchester City’s chances to retain the Premiership. Nine points separate City and the league leaders. Their decline has been shockingly rapid when you recall the fact that they were level on points at the start of this year showing clear signs of growing uncertainty among the players, the manager and the hierarchy who will now have to play a major role in the summer with regard to rebuilding the squad. Nevertheless, if history is anything to go by, the blue half of Manchester have had the better results in recent years. They have had  three wins with some massive results at that in the last three visits to Old Trafford, giving them the mental edge despite poor form. They go into this game on the back of a disappointing away defeat at Crystal Palace which has left them to fight for European places in the games to come.

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Team News

Louis Van Gaal has ruled out Robin Van Persie’s involvement with the forward still recovering from the injury he picked up in February. Defender Chris Smalling is out due to illness and so is Luke Shaw with the left back nursing a hamstring niggle while Evans remains suspended.

Pellegrini will miss the services of new signing Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic but their biggest casualty could be Vincent Kompany who is now rumored to be struggling with a tight hamstring and will undergo a late fitness test.

Interesting Numbers

Sergio Aguero has scored four goals in his last three Premier League matches against Manchester United.

The Red Devils have shipped 11 goals in their last three home clashes against City (L3).

All four of Edin Dzeko’s Premier League goals against United have arrived at Old Trafford.

Only three of Wayne Rooney’s eight PL goals against Manchester City have come at Old Trafford. Indeed, his last three against the Citizens have arrived at the Etihad.

Key Men

Marouane Fellaini – Manchester United 

Once the scapegoat of all the fans, Marouane Fellaini has raised several eyebrows with his unspectacular yet vital performances in a season where he’s grown to be named as one of the ‘undroppable’ players in the squad by the manager himself. He’s starting to justify the hefty price tag surrounding him, often the yard stick to measure footballers these days, by chipping in with important goals.  In addition, by putting his towering presence in the middle of the pitch to very good use, he offers Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal the much needed balance. He’s scored 4 goals in 20 appearances while also creating 13 chances. If those statistics don’t make for fantastic reading, his 85% passing accuracy with  54% in the forward direction quite certainly does, as does his 60% success in aerial duels. He might not be the one that is expected to pop up with a late winner in big games like these, but it is fair to say that the individual battle between him and Yaya Toure in the middle will largely determine the outcome.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

The lethal Argentine has made it a habit of scoring against Manchester United with 4 goals in his last 3 games against their old enemies. Aguero has had another productive goal-laden season for the champions but it could have been better if it were not for the injury he suffered in December missing up to 5 league games. He’s scored 17 goals in 26 games but is enduring a bit of a slump at the moment with the forward failing to find the net in the last six league games. Let’s just say very few things can top breaking this momentary drought with a goal against your arch rivals, isn’t it? Aguero has also spoken about the nerves being a factor and the ‘shivers’ he gets after scoring against United and in particular, at Old Trafford. He said,

I always love to score, but of course, it is even more special to score in the big gamesIf you score against United at Old Trafford it almost gives you shivers, because you can feel the tense atmosphere with most of the stadium being really quiet, but the away end going crazy. At home it is different, when the City supporters are really loud in these games, it sometimes gives me goose bumps when they sing my name.”

Man City can boast an array of great players in David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure but Sergio Aguero certainly holds the key to Manchester City’s chances of an unprecedented fifth successive win against United.

Prediction

Derbies are always tough to call. There’s no doubt in my mind that Man City will be up for this to get a result that can quite literally turn their season around on its head. Conversely, Manchester United look somewhat like the United we have been accustomed to, getting results tinged with a bit of swagger and cool aplomb.

Meaning, I’m going to sit on the fence.

Manchester United 2-2 Manchester City