On April 27th, Manchester City host Manchester United in a Manchester derby that could prove crucial to the top four race.
After winning their last two Premier League matches, Manchester City came crashing down in the FA Cup after a 2-1 loss in the semi-final to Arsenal. They have struggled in big matches recently, they have not won any of their last six matches against the traditional top six in all competitions after their loss to Arsenal. They did win the other league meeting with Manchester United though and remain the only team to beat United at Old Trafford. They’ll hope to recapture some of the form from that early season performance on Thursday.
After apparently putting all their eggs in the Europa league basket, Manchester United look poised to make a run on the top four. They are only a point behind Manchester City and three points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. A win against Manchester City would put them in poll position to look to steal one of those two Champions League spots.
Manchester City went through a war against Arsenal and ended up having to sub David Silva, Sergio Aguero, and Fernandinho off with injuries. All three of them have a chance to come back fit, but will all be game time decisions, according to Physioroom.com. John Stones and Gabriel Jesus both missed out against Arsenal and are doubts for the derby, while Bacary Sagna and Ilkay Gundogan are both set to miss out, according to Physioroom.com.
Manchester United have their fair share of injury issues as well. Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera are both doubts for Thursday, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rojo, Juan Mata, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and James Wilson are all out, according to Physioroom.com.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne
With some of City’s biggest players possibly missing Kevin De Bruyne will have to step up and put in a match winning performance against United. De Bruyne’s form has picked up a bit recently, with four assists in his last four league starts, but he hasn’t consistently hot the heights of his first half of the season. He does have the capacity to take over a game, and City may need that from him if they get more bad injury news.
Manchester United: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
After being out of favour for much of the first half of the season, Jose Mourinho has realized the brilliance of Henrikh Mikhitaryan this season and has made him an important part of his squad. The Armenian has scored in his last three starts in all competitions and got three shots off in each of his last two starts. The 28-year-old is one of United’s best players, and in the absence of Ibrahimovic and possible absence of Pogba, is ready to prove that to the world in one of United’s biggest games of the season.
Neither team will see a draw in this fixture as good enough and will want to push for three points. The fitness of some players could decide who wins in the end, but United have been in great form and look poised to overtake their city rivals in the table.