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Preview: Manchester City vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's derby showdown between champions Manchester City and Manchester United, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Manchester City welcome Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday for the 179th edition of the Manchester derby as both sides look to build on midweek wins.

The champions cruised to a 4-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor to return to winning ways, whereas United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on former manager Jose Mourinho's first return to Old Trafford.

Match preview

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring their second goal on December 3, 2019© Reuters

The matches continue to come thick and fast for Man City as they gear up for a festive period in which the quality and depth of their squad will be tested to the limit.

December could hardly have got off to a better start as Pep Guardiola's side eased to only their second win from their last six games across all competitions at Turf Moor, with misfiring striker Gabriel Jesus also ending his drought in the process with a well-taken brace.

However, things only get harder from hereon in, with City's three remaining league games before Christmas seeing them come up against United, Arsenal and Leicester City, the latter of whom current sit between the champions and runaway leaders Liverpool in the table.

One positive is that Guardiola will have opportunities to rest players between those matches - they have already secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League ahead of next week's match at Dinamo Zagreb, while a second or even third-string City side will still be fancied to beat League One Oxford United in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

It is still a challenging run of fixtures at the most difficult stage of the season, though, and with City having already dropped 13 points this season - only three fewer than the whole of last term and one fewer than their 100-point campaign - those opponents will fancy their chances of further denting the champions' title defence.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts on December 3, 2019© Reuters

Man City have not won successive league games since the start of November, which is a wildly inconsistent spell by their standards, and a patchy recent home record against their near neighbours suggests that they may have their work cut out to end that relative drought this weekend.

In general, though, City's record at the Etihad is exemplary, with 23 wins and only one defeat from their 26 home outings across all competitions in 2019.

In the Premier League alone they have won 24 of their last 27 home games, scoring 81 goals in that time, although they have already dropped more points in front of their fans this season than they did throughout the whole of 2018-19.

Another slight concern may be the fact that they have only kept one clean sheet in their last seven matches at the Etihad, while home and away it is now eight games since they last managed a shutout - a curious problem which has also affected title rivals Liverpool in recent months.

Nonetheless, a trip to the Etihad remains a daunting proposition for any visiting team, and United's own away record will do nothing to fill their travelling supporters with belief.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after the match against on Tottenham on December 4, 2019© Reuters

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have won just one of their last 11 away league outings stretching back to February, losing six of those including defeats at Everton, West Ham United, Newcastle United and Bournemouth, as well as draws at Huddersfield Town, Southampton and Sheffield United.

The latter of those was their most recent away outing in the Premier League, and even then it took a seven-minute purple patch, during which the Red Devils scored three times, to paper over the cracks of another dismal performance.

Indeed, United's only away win in the league since February came at struggling Norwich City, with the Canaries one of only four teams who have amassed fewer points on the road this season.

The story does not improve much in all competitions either with only three wins in their last 17 on the road, including a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Kazakhstani minnows Astana in their most recent such outing.

Unsurprisingly given such rotten form, clean sheets have also been difficult to come by, with their last away Premier League shutout coming in February - a run of 12 matches in which they have been unable to prevent the opposition from scoring.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scores against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on December 4, 2019© Reuters

Solskjaer will, of course, be keen to focus on the positives rather than those negatives ahead of this match, and Wednesday's win over his predecessor Mourinho may have come at the perfect time.

Marcus Rashford inspired his team to victory with a display Solskjaer regarded as his best during their time working together, and if the England international can continue his rich vein of form on Saturday then he will fancy his chances of unsettling a Man City defence with problems of their own.

Remarkably, United have not won back-to-back league matches for more than nine months now, so to do so against two of their big-six rivals in the space of three days would be a major step towards some much-needed consistency.

The Red Devils actually have a good record against those 'big six' despite their recent struggles, avoiding defeat in each of their last five such games, including becoming the only team to take points off Liverpool this season.

The Spurs win lifted United up into sixth and also eased the pressure on Solskjaer somewhat, but they remain eight points adrift of the Champions League places and the Norwegian will know that his job will be back under scrutiny if that gap grows any bigger.

Man City Premier League form: WWLWDW
Man City form (all competitions): DLWDDW

Man Utd Premier League form: WLWDDW
Man Utd form (all competitions): WWDLDW

Team News

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their third goal on August 31, 2019© Reuters

The champions are still without all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero due to a thigh problem, with the Argentine hoping to return for next Sunday's clash against Arsenal.

Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain long-term absentees who are unlikely to feature before February, but Oleksandr Zinchenko could be in contention to return to the squad following knee surgery in October.

Guardiola has Ilkay Gundogan back available after suspension, although the midfield trio of Rodri, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne shone in midweek and will hope to retain their places.

Such a busy December makes for peak rotation season at City and there could be changes on Saturday, although Guardiola does also have next week's Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb in which to rest players with his side already through.

Solskjaer must be envious of Man City's potential for changes given his own injury concerns, which have grown courtesy of Anthony Martial's absence.

The French forward missed the win over Spurs due to a "slight injury" and, while he is expected to feature in some capacity on Saturday, Solskjaer suggested that he will not be fit to start and so Mason Greenwood could lead the line again.

The in-form Rashford is a certainty to start following his brace against Spurs, leaving him already just one goal short of his season-best for a Premier League campaign.

Andreas Pereira provides another potential option should Solskjaer want more cover in midfield, while Nemanja Matic could return to the fold for the first time since October, having only narrowly missed out in midweek.

Paul Pogba is closing in on a return from his ongoing ankle troubles, but this match will come too soon for him, while Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are all sidelined until the latter stages of the month at the earliest.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; McTominay, Fred; James, Pereira, Rashford; Greenwood

Head To Head

Man City did the double over their local rivals last season for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign, winning 3-1 at the Etihad and 2-0 at Old Trafford en route to the title. No team has beaten United by two or more goals in three consecutive league games since Liverpool between 1978 and 1979.

That home victory is their only one in their last four Etihad editions of the derby, though, with United winning twice in that time and one match ending all square.

Overall these two sides have faced off 178 times in the past, with United edging the head-to-head record 73 wins to 53.

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We say: Man City 3-1 Man Utd

United have an admirable record at the home of their local rivals in recent years, but their away form in general has suffered a nosedive since then whereas City have been imperious at the Etihad Stadium. There is always an added element of uncertainty when predicting derby matches, but Man City are comfortably the stronger of the two teams and should have enough to see off their neighbours.


Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Man City and Man Utd?

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Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring their third goal on November 7, 2019
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rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd19124336251140
2Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
3Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
11Aston Villa1682629181126
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle185491830-1219
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225

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