Manchester United will be making the short trip across the city on Sunday as they prepare to face rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. It will be the Red Devils’ first league match since the 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the beginning of September. International breaks and postponements mean United will be playing catch up to the rest as they have games in hand on those around them.
The Citizens have played in the league since the tragic passing of Her Majesty the Queen as they ran out 3-0 victors against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
The talking point ahead of the derby will of course be summer signing Erling Haaland and his remarkable start to the campaign. The Norwegian striker has 11 goals in just seven league outings and has scored eight goals in his last four.
Following the 3-0 victory last time out, Pep Guardiola’s side had returned to the summit of the league table but that was only brief as Arsenal replaced them following their 3-0 win over Brentford the day after.
City will be buoyant and full of confidence heading into this one as they boast an incredible record at home during this calendar year with them only losing on one occasion. They unsurprisingly also have the best scoring record at home this season with them racking up 14 league goals in just three matches.
As for the visitors, they come into this one off the back of four successive league wins, something that has not been achieved since April 2021. Following a dismal start to the campaign, Erik Ten Hag has managed to turn the tide with his side only conceding twice in the last four compared to six goals conceded in the first two. The Dutch manager has shown bravery in his team selections with captain Harry Maguire no longer being a starter and Cristiano Ronaldo only being handed starts in the Europa League.
Ten Hag’s influence on the pitch has been rewarded with the Dutchman receiving the award for Premier League Manager of the Month for September. Marcus Rashford has been a key factor in United’s revival and his performances have seen him collect the Player of the Month award for September. It is just the second time that the 24-year-old has won the award and Ten Hag becomes only the second United manager post Sir Alex Ferguson to collect the award.
A run of three successive away victories along with three clean sheets, give United real confidence and poise heading into the 188th edition of the Manchester derby. Summer coup Lisandro Martinez was labelled as a ‘confusing’ signing by many but the Argentine has been instrumental in the upturn of United’s form along with Raphael Varane, Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen.
Last season’s meetings between the two ended in a 4-1 and 2-0 loss for United but no fixture in the Premier League has been won by the away side more.
The hosts will be boosted by the return of Spaniard Aymeric Laporte and it is timely for City after John Stones limped off for England during the international break with a hamstring injury.
It is likely that Laporte will not start the match and will rather have to settle for minutes off the substitutes bench. Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias are likely to start as a central defensive partnership and Guardiola will also be without Kalvin Phillips who is still suffering from the shoulder injury that denied him playing for England during the break.
Kyle Walker has also made a return to full fitness which gives City options on the right side of the defence. Haaland could become the first ever player to score three consecutive home game hat tricks in the Premier League.
As for the red half of Manchester, they will be without captain Maguire who sustained an injury on international duty. Ten Hag will be boosted however by the situations of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who have trained all week and are in contention to start Sunday’s derby.
Martin Dubravka, Donny van De Beek, Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are all unavailable for the game and the United manager faces a tough decision between Scott McTominay and new signing Casemiro.