Both the teams have started well this season and many new names will get the first taste of the Manchester derby at the weekend. Manchester United have accumulated 19 points in 9 games but are still two points behind Pellegrini’s men. The Citizens have earned 21 points so far after winning seven and losing two matches this season. The Red Devils can climb above City if they manage to beat the former champions but City have the opportunity to steer five points clear of their arch rivals.
United’s Dutch boss, Louis van Gaal, has stated that their noisy neighbours are the favourites for the clash on Sunday.
He said: “You have to ask the fans who the favourites are. It’s not important who are favourites.
“When you look at the facts, they are first and we are third. They are first so they are the favourites, I think.
“If we win, we are first in the table. That doesn’t mean we are the champions. That’s decided in May. It’s a big step when we win but still you have to continue.”
Van Gaal’s men were held to a 1 – 1 draw in the midweek Champions League tie at CSKA Moscow while their opponents at the weekend scrapped a narrow 2 – 1 win over Unai Emery’s Sevilla. City played at home on Wednesday while the 20-time English champions had to take a long flight back to Manchester, which can affect their performance at the weekend.
Manchester City has injury concerns ahead of the match at Old Trafford. Two of their most influential players, Silva and Aguero, are ruled out of the big derby game. LVG has no major worries as most of his squad is fit.
City’s new signings have settled in very well at the Etihad and are frequently contributing in the goal scoring department. Ex-Chelsea player, Kevin de Bruyne was Bundesliga Player of the 2014 – 15 season and he has carried his form to England. According to Whoscored.com, De Bruyne has recorded three goals and three assists in his four Premier League appearances for City this season. The Belgian midfielder also netted the late winner in his side’s win over Sevilla on Wednesday and he can certainly step in Aguero’s shoes to earn three more points for his side, this Sunday. However the 24-year-old believes that the derby result will have little significance on who wins the title in May.
“If you take a point or even lose, it’s not ideal but there are still almost 30 games to go so this result won’t be the deciding factor in who wins the title. There are still many points to be won and lost in the coming months,” De Bruyne was quoted as saying by British media.
“We shouldn’t play defensive because our main strength lies going forward though we need to stay disciplined,” De Bruyne said.
“We know it will be difficult. Man United have been a top team for a long time and the rivalry between us and them obviously runs deep, but the season is very long — that said, we know what it means to our supporters and it would be nice if we could go there and get three points,” he added.
United supporters will be hoping for yet another match winning performance from Anthony Martial. The Frenchman, who scored on his debut against Liverpool, might once again shine against one of the best teams in the Premier League.