The two most recent Premier League champions meet at the Etihad stadium on Sunday when Man City host Man Utd in the 166th Manchester derby (16:00 BST, Sky Sports 1).
The match will be Manuel Pellegrini’s first derby in charge of City, but he is no stranger to intense rivalry, having previously coached in the highest profile matches in both Argentina (for River Plate against Boca Juniors) and Spain (for Real Madrid against Barcelona).
His side have endured an inconsistent start to the season in the Premier League, accumulating seven points from their four fixtures.
The Citizens began the season with a convincing 4-0 victory at home to Newcastle, but faltered a little thereafter, losing away at Cardiff, edging past a spirited Hull side at the Etihad and then drawing 0-0 away at Stoke last weekend. They did, however, get their Champions League campaign off to a good start with a 3-0 midweek win away to Viktoria Plzen.
Pellegrini has largely employed similar tactics to those of his predecessor Roberto Mancini, although there has been greater emphasis on width and movement in the final third. The outright pace of Jesus Navas has added directness to City’s play, but they still remain a team most comfortable controlling the match through possession.
There are some areas that need to be worked on, most notably the midfield partnership of Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, who do not yet appear to have established a workable compromise between attacking thrust and defensive solidity. Both are better driving forward than distributing from deep and it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.
Further back, City have struggled defensively on occasion, particularly in their 3-2 defeat to Cardiff, but also at times in the home victory over Hull. The return from injury of commanding central defender Vincent Kompany, who emerged unscathed from his first match back on Tuesday, will certainly be welcomed.
New signing Martin Demichelis will miss Sunday’s match through injury, while Gael Clichy and Micah Richards will undergo late fitness tests. David Silva seems set to return to the squad after missing Tuesday’s match with a hamstring injury.
Manchester United also have a new man in the dugout this season. David Moyes has made a solid start to life at Old Trafford and was afforded the pleasure of taking charge of a Champions League group stage match for the first time in his career on Tuesday, as United romped to a 4-2 victory at home to Bayer Leverkusen.
It was the club’s most convincing performance of his time in charge to date, fuelled by a superb display from Wayne Rooney, who scored twice, provided one assist and was a regular menace to the Leverkusen back-line, dropping into pockets of space and linking well with teammates. On form, he is capable of having a transformative effect on the side.
United have not yet been as impressive in the league, amassing seven points from two wins, one draw and one defeat. But having already faced Chelsea at home (drawn) and Liverpool away (lost), they can look forward to easier fixtures to come in the weeks following Sunday’s derby, with home matches against West Brom, Southampton and Stoke City on the horizon.
Moyes will surely be slightly concerned by his side’s lack of creativity in midfield. If Rooney and Robin Van Persie continue to dovetail effectively, Antonio Valencia is able to maintain his strong early season form and Shinji Kagawa, who made his first start of the season on Tuesday, can contribute on a regular basis, that concern will not be overwhelming.
United have been strong in defence, with Moyes able to employ Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand together in the centre of the defence in all five of their league and European matches to date. United concede less goals whenever the two play together and they are still a highly capable pairing despite their increasing years.
Moyes has a few injury niggles to deal with in the build up to Sunday’s match. Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Rafael are all struggling to overcome ailments. Darren Fletcher will definitely miss out as he continues his recovery from a chronic bowel condition.
Man City vs Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
United won last season’s equivalent fixture thanks to a late winner from Robin Van Persie, but City got a degree of revenge later in the campaign by winning 2-1 at Old Trafford. This follows the pattern of recent meetings, with the away side emerging victorious in four of the last five encounters between the sides in all competitions.
Both sides have managers who are trying gradually to modify teams they have only recently inherited and neither team has been scintillating in the early weeks of the season. In contrast to most recent Manchester derbies, expect Sunday’s match to be a tight affair, with City controlling possession but United looking menacing on the break.
- Back the draw @ 12/5 with BetVictor, Bet365, Coral or SkyBet.
- Rooney scored twice in the equivalent fixture last season and with his confidence high after a strong showing against Leverkusen, we fancy him to make a similar contribution on Sunday. Back Wayne Rooney to score at anytime @ the stand out best odds of 11/4 with William Hill.