Manchester United have been handed a favorable turn of events as they prepare to face their local rivals, Manchester City, in the much-anticipated derby.
Man City’s standout player, Manuel Akanji, won’t be featuring in the derby clash after seeing two yellows in the recent fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion. Akanji’s first booking was a result of him bringing down Kaoru Mitoma during a potential counter-attack. As the game approached its climax, he received his second caution for tugging on Fati in Brighton’s territory, a decision some might deem lenient. It’s evident the ex-Borussia Dortmund man could have avoided such a fate.
In contrast to City’s top-table position, Manchester United have had a rocky start to their campaign. Erik ten Hag hasn’t enjoyed the luxury of deploying his preferred lineup consistently due to injuries plaguing several of his key players. The statistics are telling, with the team dropping points in four of their initial nine Premier League fixtures.
Manchester City, under Pep Guardiola, have had their share of hurdles as well. They faced a couple of defeats before heading into the international break. However, their recent triumph over an in-form Brighton side showcases their resilience. The reintegration of Rodri and John Stones has been a boon for their defense, while newcomer Jeremy Doku has been turning heads with his performances, particularly on the left side, a potential thorn for Diogo Dalot.
United’s offense hasn’t been at its prolific best. The spotlight will be on Rasmus Hojlund, who has displayed moments of brilliance and will be looking to make a statement by scoring against City. Marcus Rashford’s subpar form continues to be a talking point and Ten Hag will be hopeful of a turnaround from his winger.
Although Manchester United enter this derby as perceived underdogs, history reminds us that such matches can be unpredictable.