Manchester City v Manchester United: Thoughts On Sunday Derby


Manchester City’s Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetic Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Manchester City v Manchester United. This much-anticipated Manchester Derby is almost upon us. Previous fixtures have provided fans with lots of entertainment and good attacking football over the last few seasons. Here are my thoughts on this upcoming blockbuster of a match.

Positives Going Into Game

Despite their poor recent form, they have a lot going for them. For one, Sergio Aguero is still healthy. The prolific Argentine forward’s durability is not as great as his knack for scoring goals, but his will be the first name on Sunday’s team-sheet. The striker has already scored nine league goals for the Sky Blues this season, he was unlucky against West Ham, having come close to adding to his tally.

Stevan Jovetic is also available for selection, the versatile Montenegro man is a huge asset, and any positive contribution from him would come as no surprise.

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Set to return, Virgil Van Dijk facing heavy criticism back home /

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  • After a passive display from Willy Caballero against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, the inevitable return of Joe Hart will come as a breath of fresh air. Hart has been superb as of late, and his manager will depend on him to keep the Red Devils at bay.

    Although he has only kept two clean sheets, Joe Hart is one of the best keepers out there. The Englishman averages 1.88 saves per game, which isn’t bad at all. Bayern’s Manuel Neur averages 1.67, although it’s obviously due to Bayern having better team defense.

    Sore Points

    City have lost their last two games, which is quite alarming. What’s even more of a surprise is the fact that those losses came against West Ham and Newcastle. Not to take away from the teams as West Ham is currently playing incredible football, and Newcastle can take on any team on a good day; but this is clearly not up to City’s standard.

    Manager Manuel Pelligrini has attributed the team’s poor form to “lack of trust.”

    "“My feeling is that we are not playing well. We are in a difficult moment with a lack of trust, we are conceding too (many) easy goals and we are not scoring the chances we have to score.”"

    Although I wouldn’t trust Yaya Toure with the ball against practice dummies, I don’t see where the manager is coming from. He is correct on the chances part though, as his team has been quite wasteful as of late.

    Toure and Edin Dzeko have been woeful this season. Toure just does not seem interested, and Dzeko is clearly uncomfortable playing as a second striker.

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    Manchester City suffer but come away with win over West Ham /

    Playing for 90

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  • City’s defending has also been in shambles. Eliaquim Mangala — who put in a brilliant debut performance against Chelsea — hasn’t replicated the display. The only thing going for him right now is his pace, but he should improve as the season wears on.

    Gael Clichy is becoming more of a liability than anything else, the Frenchman was frustratingly shaky against West Ham, and he was at fault for both goals.

    The worst news comes in the form of David Silva‘s exclusion. The midfielder has been one of City’s better performers this season, but he suffered an unfortunate knee injury during Wednesday’s match against Newcastle. He has been ruled out for three to four weeks. Samir Nasri leads the replacement candidacy.

    Going Forward

    City have their upcoming opponents to thank for keeping the gap between themselves and Chelsea at a manageable six points, but they cannot rely on other’s results to win the title. Pelligrini needs to tighten up defensively, Clichy and Mangala will have to remain more attentive during games, as their awareness leaves a lot to be desired.

    The Sky blues should line up in a 4-4-2 formation with Aguero and Jovetic leading the attack. Toure needs to be more assertive, his negative play is taking the team down with him. Dzeko — who is a good striker — should be used as a sub, he produces more when coming off the bench, or in a lone-striking role. The Aguero-Dzeko partnership is clearly not working.

    Positives Going Into Game

    The squad finally looks like it’s adapting to Van Gaal’s philosophy, which is a major plus. Also, the resurgence of Marouane Fellaini and Robin Van Persie has pushed the team in the right direction. Fellaini — who was brought in by former manager David Moyes — was quite awful last season, but he is actually beginning to influence games now.

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  • Van Persie has always been lethal, but injuries have been keeping him back lately. United will need him at his brilliant best this season if they are to challenge for the title.

    Other in-form players are Angel Di Maria and David De Gea. Di Maria has been a revelation at the club, he is one of the main reasons for the positivity which they have shown as of late. He is quickly becoming the “man” at Manchester United.

    De Gea has been absolutely brilliant, while Di Maria is the new talk of the town, it is the Spanish keeper who is the sole reason for the team’s current position. They would have certainly been stuck to the bottom half of the table had it not been for the stopper’s heroics. If he can remain consistent, he may be United’s player of the season.

    Also, Wayne Rooney is set to return after serving his three-game suspension. The captain has scored 11 goals for United against City, making him the highest scorer in Manchester derbies during the Premier League era. That should certainly count for something.

    Sore Points

    Defense, defense, defense. This has been United’s Achilles heel this season. Over the summer, Van Gaal was so busy splashing the cash on attackers, he forgot about his defense. United have been woeful at defending, there is always so much space between defenders, and the man marking on set pieces is atrocious.

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    Some players haven’t lived up to the billing. Juan Mata and Radamel Falcao are not doing enough. The latter is out injured and he will miss the derby, but Mata simply needs to do more. He had the excuse of being played out of position last season, but he has gotten his chance to play in the “hole” this term, showing no improvement. It is becoming increasingly likely that he will be sold in January.

    Going Forward

    The solution to the defensive frailty may not be immediate, and Sunday is surely too soon. Van Gaal should sign at least two experienced defenders in January, but those are understandably hard to come by these days. The current back line is not good enough, and I can’t see it improving without a trip to the market.

    With time, Manchester United should get better, Van Gaal has a history of making slow starts. We should have a clearer picture of the table by the end of January, and if things don’t improve at the club, Van Gaal will definitely be axed.


    This one is really hard to call as both teams are struggling defensively. City have the better team and the better striker; they will also have the comfort of playing at home, but something tells me that United will show up. I cannot predict a scoreline, but I have a gut feeling that the Red Devils will leave the Etihad with all three points.