BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,12TH DEC,2020-Manchester City could win three Premier League games in a row for the first time this season and in the process, leapfrog rivals Manchester United in the table when the two rivals go head-to-head in the first Manchester Derby of the 2020/21 campaign on Saturday evening.
City travel to Old Trafford having not won a Manchester Derby in the league since April of 2019 with their overall superiority not having been a decisive factor in the most recent fixtures, as United have won three of the past five meetings in all competitions.
While Manchester City set a new club record of sixteen points out of a possible eighteen from the Champions League group stages on Wednesday night, their opponents were dumped out of the elite UEFA competition by Germany’s RB Leipzig the previous evening.
City loanee Angeliño starred in the game as he opened the scoring and provided an assist for RB Leipzig’s second goal in a stunning 3-2 victory over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Away from Europe, City are undoubtedly currently enjoying their best spell domestically as we enter the hectic festive fixture schedule. With wins against Burnley and Fulham either side of European dead-rubber games against Porto and Marseille, Pep Guardiola’s side look to have finally found their mojo.
Raheem Sterling has been on the scoresheet twice this week while Kevin De Bruyne’s supposedly “poor season” has meant the Belgian midfielder has only managed one goal and eight assists in his past seven City appearances. In midweek, Ferran Torres added to his outstanding Champions League goals tally while club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero came off the bench to score his second goal of an injury hampered start to the season.
Pep Guardiola confirmed that only ‘two players’ aren’t currently fit. Those players are Sergio Agüero and Eric Garcia. The latter is expected to be out for two to three weeks with the injury that forced the teenager off on Wednesday night.
Regarding Sergio Agüero, the City boss repeated his words that the Argentine will not start for City on Saturday evening. The Catalonian also said that Ilkay Gundogan “trained good” despite being substituted at half-time in midweek with an ankle problem. Rodri also missed training earlier this week but reports suggests he will be ok for the Derby.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial will return at the weekend after missing their midweek loss while it is still unknown if Edinson Cavani will play any part in the Derby.
Head To Head:
The first ever Manchester Derby took place in November 1894, where City suffered a 5-2 defeat to United at Hyde Road. Since then, there have been 181 Manchester Derbies of which City have won 54, lost 75 and drawn 52. There have been 248 goals scored by City and 258 conceded.
City have lost three of the last four Derbies in all competitions, with United successfully doing the league double over City last season for the first time in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era. City haven’t lost three straight Derbies since a run spanning between 2008 and 2009 and will be looking to avoid repeating this milestone.
Guardiola suffered a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford last season, his first as City boss in the League with previous 2-0, and 2-1 wins.
A midfield head to head battle has also emerged between Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne and November Premier League Player of the Month Bruno Fernandes ahead of the game. De Bruyne has scored five less goals than Fernandes this season but has registered two more assists than the Portuguese play maker. City’s midfield has played less minutes than Fernandes this season but has made more Premier League assists this calendar year than any other player in the Premier League.
The Blues are currently enjoying their best run in the Premier League with back-to-back wins and are unbeaten in four of their past five League games. City are unbeaten in nine of their past ten games in all competitions, with eight wins, one draw and one loss.
City are currently seventh in the league, still a game in hand on sixteen of the other teams in the league but a point behind Manchester United who are sixth placed.
Despite defeats to PSG and RB Leipzig in the past weeks, a win on Saturday would see United win five straight league games having won their last four league games against West Ham, Southampton, West Brom and Everton. Surprisingly, United have fallen behind in three of these four league victories.
Solskjaer’s side have kept just one clean sheet since November having conceded seventeen goals in the league so far. This is massively different to City who have kept clean sheets in their past five games and have conceded just eleven goals in the league – five of which were conceded against Leicester in late September.
Chris Kavanagh’s fourteenth game of the season will be the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford. The 35-year-old produced five yellow cards when he took charge of City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Etihad in October and was also in charge when United were awarded a penalty after the final whistle had been blown at the Amex in September.
Kavanagh will be joined by assistant referees Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis along with fourth official Craig Pawson at Old Trafford while Paul Tierney (VAR) will be joined by Ian Hussain (AVAR) at Stockley Park.