Manchester United and City will meet on a Thursday in the league for the first time since November 1994 when they lock horns at the Etihad tonight.
The 174th Manchester Derby has a lot at stake for both teams, more so for Pep Guardiola, who will end this season without a trophy- the first time it’s happened since he began managing back in 2008. If City finish trophy-less and don’t get into the Champions League despite spending £175m on players last summer (more than ANY PL team), that would certainly be a blot on Guardiola’s otherwise stellar managerial career.
Finishing fourth is the only way for Guardiola to get into the Champions League next season while Jose Mourinho can still get into the competition by winning the Europa League, where United will face Celta Vigo in the last four.
City go into this game on the back of a disappointing FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal, bowing out at Wembley despite taking the lead against the Gunners. More worrying for Guardiola was the hamstring injury picked up by David Silva- the Spanish playmaker is a key cog in his system and not having him available will be a big blow.
Man City lose to Arsenal in the FA Cup
United will themselves be without Paul Pogba but Mourinho will have high expectations from Ander Herrera, who got the better of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in that fantastic 2-0 win a few weeks ago.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic not available, Marcus Rashford will lead United’s line, but the youngster will find Vincent Kompany a tougher opponent to contend with in comparison to the slow Martin Demichelis, whom he embarrassed in the fixture at the Etihad last season. The experienced Belgian is easily City’s best defender and their backline has looked more organised since his return.
United have not lost a league game since October and if they avoid defeat against City, this will equal their best ever league run without a defeat (24 in 2010/11). If you fancy Mourinho to get his tactics right against Guardiola, then don’t forget to check out BiggestFreeBets before placing some ££.
City are currently fourth with 64 points, while United are a point behind in fifth, and both have six games to play. The Citizens won the reverse fixture at Old Trafford earlier this season 2-1.
City’s fixture list after the United game (Boro, Palace, Leicester, West Brom and Watford) seems significantly easier on paper in comparison to the Red Devils, who still have away trips to Arsenal and Tottenham to make. A win here would significantly boost their chances of CL football next season and would ease some pressure on Guardiola.
Man City recent results
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
Southampton 0-3 Manchester City
Manchester City 3-1 Hull City
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City
Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City
Man Utd recent results
Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Anderlecht
Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea
Anderlecht 1-1 Manchester United
Sunderland 0-3 Manchester United
We leave you with a video from United’ 5-0 win over City- the last time the Manchester Derby was played on a Thursday, which saw Andrei Kanchelskis (remember him?) score a hat trick, with Hughes and Cantona also netting for SAF’s side.