The rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho resumes on Sunday. The first Manchester derby of the season.
Manchester United will be confident after ending Juventus’ unbeaten run in all competitions when they came from behind to defeat the Old Lady’s 1-2 at Turin. Jose Mourinho men have been refilled with the fighting spirit to come from behind in recent weeks.
All things being equal, both teams are currently on top form but Pep Guardiola’s men are even in better form. City has scored 12 goals in their last two games; 6-1 win over Southampton and the 6-0 humiliation of Shaktar Donetsk on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League. City top the league and are nine points ahead of their rivals after only 10 games.
Jose Mourinho thinks United are only being lucky to have picked points from losing oppositions so far in the league, and very soon they will run out of luck but hopes it wouldn’t be their derby clash on Sunday.
He said: “If we keep conceding goals before the opponent, it will arrive the day where we cannot come back. So, we have to make sure we grow up not just in our approach – because I think that is clear that the team is growing up.
“But also we have to grow up in our compactness and to start matches well. Which, I have to say against Juventus, happened.”
Pep Guardiola won’t forget his loss to Mourinho the last time United visited Etihad, having blown out a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to their neighbours. He said: “Last season we lost, but every game is a new history and a new chapter. We realize how strong United are. When they dominate and create chances they win easily, but you can have the feeling you are in control and they can still punish you. It’s Manchester United – with Liverpool, they are one of the strongest teams in England’s history. I hope it can be a good derby and we can enjoy watching it.”
The Manchester clubs have met 42 times, with The Citizens winning only 13, drawing 8, whilst The Red Devils have won 21 times.
Last season, City won 1-2 at Old Trafford – thanks to Lukaku’s disasterclass, and in the reverse fixture at Etihad, United sealed a 3-2 comeback. The defeat denied City being coronated in front of their rivals. Imagine the bragging rights.
Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy were given the night off in Wednesday’s 6-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk. The latter will certainly start here, while Kompany, who has a great derby record, will also hope to feature. Kevin De Bruyne will continue to miss out for Pep Guardiola’s side, while the City boss has to decide who to start in attack out of Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané. Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick against Shakhtar but Sergio Aguero is expected to return to the starting XI against Manchester United.
Romelu Lukaku has missed Manchester United’s last two matches through injury but trained on Friday and will likely make the squad here. Alexis Sanchez came off against Juventus in midweek and looked in discomfort as he took his place in the bench. Marcus Rashford will hope to benefit with a rare start. Juan Mata produced another important display from the bench in midweek, kickstarting their dramatic comeback against Juventus. He will hope to start in place of Jesse Lingard. Ander Herrera gave United’s midfield added protection against Juventus and he should retain his place in the starting XI at the Etihad.
Despite showing signs of revival in recent weeks, it would be a huge surprise if United even managed a draw on Sunday. City are producing jaw-dropping football on a weekly basis and should prove too much for Mourinho’s men. There will certainly be no way back for United if they continue to start games poorly. They will run out of luck soon, as foreseen by their manager. City are too ruthless for that and will certainly punish any mistakes. Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United.