EUROPE: World Cup – Qualification
Venue: Parc des Princes (Paris)
The 186th edition of the Manchester derby, one of the world’s biggest football matches, sees Manchester United host reigning Premier League (PL) champions Manchester City with both sides looking to put recent setbacks behind them. For the fourth campaign in a row, Man United have lost three of their opening ten league fixtures (W5, D2) and now trail cross-city rivals City by three points after a recent dip in PL form (W1, D1, L3).
One could be forgiven for thinking the gap was larger given the pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but having suffered a 5-0 humiliation in one derby (vs Liverpool) already this season, he can’t afford another poor showing here. Encouragingly, the ‘Red Devils’ have fared well in the Manchester derby in recent years, losing just one of the last five competitive meetings (W3, D1) and will believe they can deal an early blow to their title-chasing foes.
However, as they’ve won just one of the last six PL H2Hs at Old Trafford (D2, L3), that could put a spring in the step of Man City as they look to bounce back from a surprise 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last league outing. That saw them slip five points behind leaders Chelsea, although a midweek 4-1 thrashing of Club Brugge will have boosted morale ahead of what could be a defining match in either side’s season.
Defeat to Palace was Man City’s first at home this term and interestingly, the last time they lost consecutive league fixtures, the first of those defeats was against none-other than Palace! That might give manager Pep Guardiola some food for thought, particularly as this is now the third straight season that they’ve lost two of their first ten league games (W6, D2).
Players to watch: Gabriel Jesus completed the scoring for Man City against Brugge and the last three of his four competitive club goals this term have now arrived after half-time. The same is true for United’s Bruno Fernandes, who opened the scoring in the last PL derby clash.
- France’s form in last 5 matches: WWWDD.
- Kazakhstan’s form in last 5 matches: LLDLD.
PREDICTION: Home Win and Over 2.5