On October 25th, Manchester United welcome their cross town rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford. This is not just a Manchester derby, it’s first verses third. This is a battle of two teams looking to strengthen their title merits.
City go into this top and will be looking to widen the gap to United and keep their two point lead over Arsenal. City are current favorites for the title, but they’ll need to put in some big performances over the coming weeks to make sure they don’t drop too many points while they are missing some key players.
United come in third and will be looking to prove that they are worthy title contenders. After they were decimated by Arsenal prior to the international break, Louis Van Gaal’s army responded with a 3-0 win over Everton. They’ll need to prove that the Arsenal result was a fluke and that they are good enough to compete with the top sides this year.
City’s injury problems are well documented, and they will struggle to replace some of their injured stars. Sergio Aguero will be out for another month with his hamstring injury, while David Silva looks set to miss out through his ankle injury. They’ll also be without the services of Fabian Delph, Samir Nasri, and Gael Clichy.
United have less significant injury issues, but they will still be without a few first team players. The biggest injury problem is Luke Shaw as the England international is likely not going to return this season with his broken leg. Ashley Young will miss out as he is not yet match fit following his calf injury. Two young players in Paddy McNair and James Wilson are also looking set to miss out through and abdominal injury and illness respectively.
After losing the previous four, Manchester United won the most recent meeting between the two sides 4-2. Manchester City have had the edge in the derby since Sir Alex Ferguson left winning three of the four matches and outscoring United 10-5 over that period.
Manchester City have scored more goals than anyone else in the league (24), but have only scored seven goals away from home, the same amount as 17th place Bournemouth. Manchester United have the best home defensive record in the league with only one goal conceded in four games. City will be missing a lot of their firepower with the joint top assist leader, David Silva, and the joint second top scorer, Sergio Aguero, both out through injury.
Manchester United: Anthony Martial
Despite scoring against Everton, Wayne Rooney has been in very poor form this year. To make up for that, Louis Van Gaal has needed a striker to step up. Young Anthony Martial has been the man to step up and has flourished in the early parts of his Manchester United career. The young Frenchman has scored five goals in his first nine appearances in all competitions. His all around performances as a center forward have been very impressive. Martial’s start has been incredible, and it would only get better with a good performances in his first Manchester Derby.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne
For as good a start as Martial has made at Manchester United, it’s arguable that Kevin De Bruyne has had an even better start to his Manchester City career. He has racked up three goals and three assists in his first five Premier League appearances. Add two goals and an assist in four appearances in other competitions and you get a pretty impressive start. The Belgian came in for a big fee, and is proving that he is worth every single penny early in his Manchester City career.
Manchester United will likely look to come out and attack. Not only are they the home team, but they arguably have more to gain with a win here. A win against their cross town rivals would not only move them up the table, but it would validate their title ambitions. Still, it is likely that the two sides cancel each other out and, this early in the season, neither will want to lose this.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw