There will be a lot at stake when the Manchester rivals square off at Etihad Stadium, and while a win wouldn’t do much for either of the side, a draw or defeat are bound to prove costly at a time when both Man City and Man Utd are struggling to meet pre-season expectations. With that in mind, chances are we will witness another nervy affair.
Going into the final stretch 15 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City, albeit with two games in hand, Manchester City don’t exactly have plenty to cheer about. The reality is that they have utterly failed to mount a serious title challenge, with even a top 4 place now in danger. The Citizens must have been happy to see Chelsea score late goals in either half to prevent high-flying West Ham from winning at Stamford Bridge, since the result gives them a chance to go five points clear of the Hammers in the race for the final Champions League berth. Manchester City haven’t been too impressive of late, even struggling at their Etihad Stadium, but they are definitely in a better position than their local rivals and have most key men available at the moment. Their experience should also give the hosts an extra edge when facing youthful Manchester United side, and we don’t think they will miss what is a very good opportunity to cement the final Champions League berth and keep their slim title hopes alive for another week.
Captain Vincent Kompany has been ruled out through injury, but Nicolas Otamendi could feature as his injury is not as serious as first feared.
Manuel Pellegrini has had several important players return into action of late, but Kevin De Bruyne, Fabian Delph and Samir Nasri continue to miss out.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has got to be given credit for promoting so many youngsters from the club’s youth academy, and there are no doubts his actions will provide a legacy for future managers at Old Trafford, but, taking everything into account, we can safely say that the Dutch tactician has failed to prove his worth in England. Van Gaal spent loads of cash on new players since arriving at the club, but he has utterly failed to rebuild the squad and create a homogenous unit that would perform week in week out. Man Utd instead struggle even against the bottom table sides, and despite being close to top 4 positions at the moment, nobody really believes they can secure Champions League qualification. Following a bright run of results, the Red Devils suffered a serious dip in form, losing two of last four matches and failing to record a win during that period. Team’s poor away performances are another major cause for concern ahead of the trip to Etihad, with Manchester United losing four of last five matches on the road and only defeating minnows Shrewsbury.
Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera is rated doubtful after missing the Liverpool game through a groin problem, whereas Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger are pushing for recalls.
Ashley Young and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have resumed training after injury and should be in contention for starting places.
Key Factors to Consider
- Man City won last two home fixtures vs Man Utd
- Last seven Manchester derbies produced 23 goals
- Man Utd lost four of last five away matches on all fronts
- Man City kept three successive clean sheets
- Man Utd are winless in last four fixtures (D2 L2)
With some important players returning to the side of late, Manchester City stand a good chance of recording the third straight home win over Manchester United, who head into the game having lost four of last five away matches. The Red Devils have been struggling of late and everything suggests their Champions League dream will end at Etihad.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 17/20
Bookmaker: William Hill
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