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

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Manchester City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Manchester United and Manchester City lock horns for the 183rd time on Saturday, with just one point and one place separating the near-neighbours in the Premier League table.

Both clubs endured disappointing starts to their respective campaigns, but have begun to climb the table in recent weeks and would stay in touch with the leading pack with victory in this match.


Match preview

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks dejected after seeing his side knocked out of the Champions League on December 8, 2020© Reuters

If you had told Manchester United fans at the beginning of 2020-21 that they would go into their first derby of the season, more than a quarter of the way into the campaign, sitting above Man City in the table then they would have no doubt taken that position.

However, all has not been well for either of these teams so far this term and, while Man City do now seem to be finding their feet, Man United continue to struggle with inconsistency and vastly differing home and away form.

Defeat to RB Leipzig in midweek condemned them to Europa League football again after Christmas, despite getting themselves into a position where they only needed one point from their final two games to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.

The 3-2 loss in Leipzig, which followed a 3-1 home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain a week earlier, was only made to look a little more respectable by two late goals for the Red Devils as they threatened another comeback away from home.

That has been a feature of their Premier League campaign so far, remarkably coming from behind to win all five of their top-flight away games so far this season - something which has never been done before in the competition.

Paul Pogba celebrates scoring for Manchester United against West Ham United in the Premier League on December 5, 2020© Reuters

Indeed, the Red Devils have now won a club-record nine successive away league games and are unbeaten on the road since January, and with questions again being asked of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following their Champions League exit it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that it is only their away form which is keeping him in the job at the moment.

United's record at Old Trafford is an entirely different story, with only a league-low 21% of their points - four of 19 - coming on their own patch so far this season.

Three of those four points did come in their last such match as they narrowly edged past West Bromwich Albion, but they have not won back-to-back home league games since early July and will expect a much sterner test against Man City.

That said, Solskjaer has displayed an uncanny knack of pulling big results out of the bag when he needs them most, and he has won three of his five previous managerial meetings with Pep Guardiola too - the best win rate of any manager to have gone head to head with Guardiola four or more times.

Solskjaer could also justifiably point to the league table as evidence that Man United's season is not going quite as badly as many have made out; victory on Saturday would temporarily lift them to within two points of leaders Tottenham Hotspur, having played the same number of games.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring for Manchester City against Fulham in the Premier League on December 5, 2020© Reuters

Such poor home form is an issue which would prevent a sustained title challenge unless fixed, though, and Man City will relish the chance to pour more misery on their neighbours in what has already been a difficult week on and off the pitch.

City have by no means enjoyed a faultless season themselves so far, though, and they make the short trip to Old Trafford sitting below their bitter rivals in the table.

Indeed, whereas Man United are six points better off than they were after 10 games of last season, Man City are four points worse off.

Guardiola's men are beginning to find the sort of consistency we have become used to seeing from them in recent campaigns, though, and they head into this derby on a five-match unbeaten run during which time they have not conceded a single goal.

Only Spurs have beaten Man City in their last 15 games across all competitions, while their victory over Fulham last weekend secured back-to-back Premier League wins for the very first time this season.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured on November 8, 2020© Reuters

Guardiola's men have now scored as many goals in their last two league outings as they had in their previous seven combined, while they could also keep three consecutive top-flight clean sheets for the first time since May 2019.

There will still be concerns over Man City's away form, though, having won just once on the road in the league since their opening game of the campaign.

Defeat to Tottenham in their last such outing was their fifth away league loss of 2020 - their most in a calendar year since 2015 - and that includes being beaten by Man United on their last visit in March.

The goals have not exactly been flowing freely either, scoring six and conceding five in their five away outings to date, although that is still significantly better than Man United's home record.

Solskjaer's side have netted just three times at Old Trafford so far in 2020-21 which, when coming up against a team with five clean sheets on the bounce, does not bode well in this battle for bragging rights.

Manchester United Premier League form: DLWWWW
Manchester United form (all competitions): WWWLWL

Manchester City Premier League form: DWDLWW
Manchester City form (all competitions): LWWDWW



Team News

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial pictured in November 2020© Reuters

The hosts could again be without injured duo Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani for this one after both missed out in midweek.

Martial's absence will be keenly felt, having scored in three of his last four league appearances against Man City including both home and away last season. If he does start, the Frenchman could become the first United player to net in three consecutive league derbies since Eric Cantona.

Solskjaer must decide whether or not to start Paul Pogba, who has now scored in back-to-back games but also drew more negative attention to the club this week with his agent's comments over his future.

Luke Shaw is now fit again but may have to settle for a place on the bench for the derby, with Solskjaer set to return to a four-at-the-back system.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is expected to start on the opposite flank as he renews his eye-catching head-to-head with Raheem Sterling, who is still searching for his first goal against Manchester United in what would be his 17th attempt.

Guardiola has confirmed that Sergio Aguero will not start this match despite a goalscoring return in midweek, meaning that Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line again.

Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Ederson and Benjamin Mendy are among the other players who will likely come back into the starting lineup for this match.

Eric Garcia and Ilkay Gundogan were both forced off in midweek, though, and they will need to be assessed ahead of kickoff this weekend.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Mendy; Rodri, Fernandinho; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling; Jesus


Head To Head

These two sides met four times last season, and it was United who emerged with the derby bragging rights having won three of those - including both league games.

The Red Devils have not won three successive league editions of the derby for more than a decade now, while they could also lose three in a row across all competitions for the first time since 2009.

Manchester City have won more Premier League away games at Old Trafford than any other visiting side, though, with six of their seven such victories coming in the last nine seasons.


SM words green background

We say: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

Solskjaer has managed to ease growing pressure on his shoulders in the past with timely victories in matches exactly like this one, and United's record in the derby last season commands Man City's respect too.

However, it is impossible to look past Man United's home form this season and, while Man City's away record is not exactly outstanding either, Guardiola's men do seem to be finding a level of consistency they had previously been lacking.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


ID:425928:cQx

How you voted: Man Utd vs Man City

Manchester United
35.0%
Draw
14.7%
Manchester City
50.3%
571
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Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring against Marseille in the Champions League on December 9, 2020
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Combined XI: Manchester United vs. Manchester City
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd19124336251140
2Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
3Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
4Liverpool1997337221534
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
6Everton1710252821732
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
8Aston Villa1792631181329
9Chelsea1985633231029
10Southampton188552621529
11Arsenal198382319427
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Burnley185491022-1219
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle1954101832-1419
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
18Fulham1826101527-1212
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225

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