All the latest from both camps as the Premier League champions look to take advantage of their game in hand to keep the pressure on Liverpool.
Manchester United and Manchester City square off in Old Trafford on Wednesday evening (kick-off at 21:00 CEST) in what could prove to be a pivotal game in the blow-for-blow Premier League title race between Pep Guardiola’s holders and Jürgen Klopp’s challengers.
Liverpool currently lead the table by two points after seeing off Cardiff last weekend and Guardiola will be only too aware that his side cannot afford any slip-ups in their game in hand over the leaders. Win, and City go a point clear while smashing the ball back into Liverpool’s court. Fail to pick up three points and the pendulum swings towards The Reds regaining their place on the perch made crudely famous by Sir Alex Ferguson many years ago.
The question is, of course, how much advantage do Manchester United want to hand their arch-rivals? Manchester City remain the “noisy neighbor” in terms of total title wins but in recent years, and particularly under Guardiola, they have more quietly assumed the loftier position in Greater Manchester. Given their own concerns – the slim chance of a top-four finish and the recent removal of any gloss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had added to the rusting hulk of the Ferrari Ferguson built – United have little choice but to give City a game.
The issue is for a side that has lost three of their last five in the Premier League is that most sides who have tried that this season have been annihilated by City’s electric attacking football.
Manchester United team vs Manchester City (announced)
Starting XI: De Gea, Darmian, Young, Shaw, Lindelof, Smalling, Fred, Pereira, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford
Manchester City team vs Manchester United (announced)
Starting XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva, Bernardo, Sterling, Agüero
Manchester United vs Manchester City: injuries and suspensions
Solskjaer will be forced to patch up an already far from watertight back four with Antonio Valencia and Eric Bailly both missing while Ander Herrera is a doubt for United, which could mean a start for Scott McTominay in midfield.
Guardiola will turn up at Old Trafford with almost a full bill of health. Only Kevin de Bruyne and reserve keeper Claudio Bravo are ruled out for the derby with the return to full fitness of Fernandinho allowing the City manager to play 10 of his strongest XI.
Manchester United vs Manchester City: what the managers said
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “It’s not about taking something away from others. We have to want to overtake them, and not just because it’s City and Liverpool. For a supporter, as I am, and as a manager now as well, we know [them well] because they are so close in the vicinity. We want to be the best, we have been the best and it’s not nice seeing those two at the top.”
Pep Guardiola: "The players know the importance [of the game]. You always have to understand the situation. If you lost the last game 4-0 and being told something not good things about the performance, I know exactly what our reaction would be from our players, and that is what is going to happen tomorrow. We accept that, that is the challenge."