The upcoming derby match between Manchester United and Manchester City is going to be a big one. Both teams have had their struggles this season, with United struggling in 8th on the Premier League table right now, while City have a legitimate chance to get bounced out of the Champions League during the group stage. It is fair to say that this match will have major implications on the season, and any derby between these two will have a little extra oomph.
Manchester City comes into the matchup after getting eliminated from the Capital One Cup by Newcastle United, losing 2-1 to West Ham in Premier League competition, and giving up 2-goal lead to tie CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. On a positive side, it seems that Sergio Aguero has hit his stride, scoring 9 goals in 9 Premier League appearances. While they sit in 3rd on the Premier League table, there is a continued pressure for The Citizens to perform and repeat as champions of the Premier League.
Manchester United are at a different point in their season, sitting in 8th and hoping to climb into the top 4. The club did not qualify for any European competition after their worst finish in over a decade, and Louis van Gaal has been focused on returning the club to the top 4. The club went on a huge spending spree over the summer, bringing in Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid, and securing Radamel Falcao on a yearlong loan.
The previous three meetings between these teams ended with City winning, including 4-1 and 3-0 scorelines during last year’s Premier League season. United do hold the advantage all-time playing at City’s Etihad Stadium with 27 wins to 24 losses and draws. It seems obvious, but Manchester United and Manchester City need a win to get back on track for season goals. Man City are chasing Chelsea for the league title, while United are chasing a bevy of teams in the top 4. A slip up in this match could be lethal to their chances to climb up the table.
This match will mark Wayne Rooney’s first since his suspension for a red card. The Manchester United captain was suspended for three games after receiving a red card against West Ham. Many suspected some sort of injury after he was seen limping at a sponsor event, but van Gaal has assured the public that his captain will play. Radamel Falcao on the other hand, has been ruled out of the derby due to injuries, and Juan Mata hasn’t been the playmaker LVG hoped. Manchester United have not been firing on all cylinders this season so far, but Angel Di Maria has been a consistent bright spot in the lineup. The biggest question will be how smooth Rooney’s transition back into the lineup will be, considering he has not played a Premier League match in over a month.
Manchester City has quite a few questions, beginning with who will start in goal. While Joe Hart would seem like the logical choice, his position has been challenged by Willy Caballero. David Silva and Frank Lampard are not expected to play due to injuries, while many expect Samir Nasri to return this weekend. Yaya Toure hasn’t been the steady superstar that City has needed, but Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic have provided spark while on the pitch. Look out for Sergio Aguero to wreck havoc on an inconsistent defense that has struggled at times this season. City desperately need this match to go well in order to get back on track to winning the Premier League for the second straight year.
Manchester United will be looking to reverse the trend that has seen them lose 5 of the past 6 derby matches against City. It seems that almost every derby between these two clubs has drama, and this one will be no different. If nothing else, the match at Ethiad Stadium will be a turning point in the Premier League season.