Manchester rivals are heading into the first city derby of the season in high spirits despite Manchester City making a short trip to Old Trafford on the back of their first competitive defeat of the season.
A change of formation working well for Mourinho
November was not entirely a good month for Manchester United. Red Devils suffered two identical 1-0 defeats away at Chelsea and Basel, respectively, and Jose Mourinho was forced to shake things up in order to get his team back on track.
Jose Mourinho opted to reintroduce the 3-5-2 formation after witnessing the 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-1-2 styles failing to yield expected results and his decision proved to be a correct one. The Portuguese tactician will be happy to see striker Romelu Lukaku rediscovering his scoring touch this week against CSKA Moscow after going through a four-match dry spell. The Belgian leveled the score against the Russian side on Tuesday night before Marcus Rashford scored a winner to help his side turn the result over and come from behind for a morale-boosting triumph ahead of the big game. Red Devils trail Manchester City by huge eight points but a win would see them put a fresh twist on the title race.
Jose Mourinho will be without defender Eric Bailly and midfielder Michael Carrick, whereas there is a chance that Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini will be in full fitness for the Sunday test.
Nemanja Matic is injured but Mourinho is convinced he will play against City while there is also a big chance that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be given a run out.
Manchester City not unbeatable
Now we finally know that Pep Guardiola’s side is build from flesh and blood like the rest of the world. Having gone unbeaten for 20 matches through the entire season, Manchester City were finally defeated.
The Citizens suffered their first defeat since April losing 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League this week. Although the timing of their first season’s defeat is far from ideal, Manchester City could still turn it into their favour for Sunday’s Manchester Derby. Pep Guardiola will surely not want this one defeat to turn into two and put his title charge in jeopardy. In all honesty, he has no reason to worry over the midweek defeat knowing that City had already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League as group leaders and could afford to drop their guard down just a bit. Guardiola used the Shakhtar match to rest a number of his first-team stars and will have his side’s core fresh for the big challenge. City have been in flying form in the league this season and will be keen to keep it that way.
Benjamin Mendy continues to nurture his injury whereas defender John Stones is also on the medical table. De Bruyne returns to the squad following his Champions League yellow card suspension while David Silva is a huge doubt for the clash.
Manchester derbies are never easy to predict but are always entertaining football affairs. We fully expect another show on display as both teams have plenty to fight for. In addition to three huge points, a local pride and bragging rights are at stake here with both Mourinho and Guardiola keen to gain the upper hand over one another.
Top pick: Both teams to score – yes 1.71 (5/7) @10Bet
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 1.89 (8/9) @888sport
Alternative pick 2: Manchester City 2.22 (11/9) @Unibet