Time for one of the biggest derbies in world football with two clubs in very different moods. But form tends to go out on the window in these ties (as does discipline)
By Simon Ward, Content Editor
Well. This is an interesting one. Would even the most diehard, Red Devil-blooded United fan predict anything other than City winning this one at a canter? Because while all eyes have shifted to the form of the Mancunians’ noisy neighbours down the road in Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s lads have been largely flying this season, especially in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team have also been flying – but more in the way that the Hindenburg was technically flying at one point. While Solskjær may have United’s board and large sways of supporters on his side, and their victory again Spurs will have silenced a few, another poor result against such arch rivals so soon after their 5-0 Liverpool thrashing may see a tide shift he can’t come back from.
And yet, Ole is a man who can pull results out of the bag when it’s needed. During his early spell at the club, he took points off Liverpool after five games without a win back in October 2019. Then, two months later after one win in four, he beat Tottenham and then City (a run of fixtures that sounds errily familar to this season). Last season, United had won once in five before they went to City and won again. And, well, look at what they did against Tottenham at the weekend.
So, while some would argue that this City game comes too quickly for a side clearly hurting, perhaps the opposite is true. Here are some of the big questions going into the game:
Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær about to be sacked?
Memories in football are short – and managers welcome and worry about that fact. No doubt the loudest voices at the moment are calling for Ole to be shown the door, despite victory against Spurs and Gary Neville’s diplomatic calls for more time. Defeat against City, particularly in the manner they lost against Liverpool, might be too much for him to ride out.
But consider the reverse. What does a win against City do – besides local bragging rights? While Chelsea, Liverpool and City looked like they were about disappear from the pack, City lost at the weekend. Liverpool drew. Three points here actually puts them level on points with City, and well in contention for the top four spots. In case you’d forgotten how we started this point – memories in football are short…
What has been going wrong for Manchester United?
Many things, but it’s defensive organisation where they’ve really struggled. Against Leicester, Liverpool and Atalanta, they were easily carved open with an unforgivable (and punishable) amount of space for forwards to run into. Individual mistakes haven’t helped, but as a team – and despite the talent they possess – the season stats just don’t stack up.
Following the Liverpool game, they had won the least amount of tackles of any team in the league (61), made the least amount of attempted tackles (104) and also came bottom in terms of errors leading to shots (8). So while there’s plenty of spotlight on the manager and tactics, the players themselves also need to look at their energy and discipline levels. Against a poor Spurs side, have we really learnt anything new?
Is Cristiano Ronaldo hindering Manchester United?
When the five-time Ballon d’Or winner returned this summer, it was likened to Elvis returning – but has it been more Vegas Elvis? Supporters will point out he’s the club’s top overall scorer with seven goals, but just over half of those have come in the league (4), while his pressing and passing stats have been poor. But did they really sign Ronaldo for his pressing?
Critics would say United’s play has also shifted, with more crosses fired in to suit his aerial game. He also now plays as a number 9 rather than the wicked winger during his first United spell. And wasn’t that the reason why Jadon Sancho was signed? As a winger? Brilliant for Borussia Dortmund and England, but now very much an understudy to the main show.
With even Fantasy Football managers considering cashing in on him, do you stick or twist?
Can Manchester City lose this one?
Prior to last weekend, it seemed hard to believe City wouldn’t win this game. Before the Crystal Palace tie, the Citizens had only lost once in the Premier League all season – a shock 1-0 defeat against Spurs back in August – and are still the only side to take all three points off a rampant Chelsea who look every bit the team to beat. And the promise of £100m new boy Jack Grealish is starting to pay dividends.
But as we said at the top, this is a derby. This is also the side, despite being much changed, were dumped out of the Carabao Cup to West Ham. They also lost in memorable fashion against Palace. They still lack the out-and-out striker the likes of Leicester or Liverpool possess in Vardy and Salah respectively. With five points now separating them and Chelsea at the top, this is a must-win for Pep's men.
What are the head-to-head stats?
There have been 152 league meetings between the two sides, with Manchester United just edging it with 59 wins against City’s 45 wins, plus 48 draws. However, in the last 10 Premier League matches, along with 2 draws, City (5 wins) lead United (3 wins). And in those last 10 league meetings, the clubs scored (and conceded) 12 goals apiece.
Last season, despite City eventually regaining their Premier League crown from Liverpool, they failed to take a single point from United, with a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford back in December 2020 and a surprise 2-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in March. Could Ole's comeback story begin here?
Man City v Man Utd: predictions
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When is Man City v Man Utd?
You can watch Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Manchester City at 12.30pm on Saturday 6 November. Sky Sport’s live coverage begins at 11.30am. Check out our Fixtures Finder page to discover all the football on TV this week and beyond.
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