Times at Manchester United right now are turbulent, to say the least. Turbulent in every aspect of the situation – the manager’s job, the results, the tactics, the line-ups, the fans… everything.
That makes it quite hard to write a preview to one of the biggest matches of the season; Manchester City at Old Trafford.
United, after getting back to winning ways against Tottenham Hotspur, had their 4th thrilling game in the Champions League this season, with Cristiano Ronaldo producing the goods yet again to score both goals (both in extra time of each half, funnily enough) in a 2-2 draw away to Atalanta.Embed from Getty Images
After the appointment of Antonio Conte to Spurs, a man who was linked heavily to the United job after the 0-5 thrashing against Liverpool, all eyes fell on Ole Gunnar Solskjær to win his next two fixtures heading into the international break.
One of those fixtures has been played out, and now the attention turns to the Manchester Derby – a game that often makes or breaks a manager.
As mentioned above, Manchester United are all over the place. If you focus on the Champions League, they seem to be flying – top of their group, Ronaldo scoring goals left right and centre. However, if you look at the Premier League table, it tells a vastly different tale.
United sit 5th in the table, having won only one of their last five fixtures (the aforementioned 3-0 victory over Spurs), and are already eight points behind leaders Chelsea. United sit three points behind the cross-city blue rivals in third, with West Ham squashed between the two Manchester clubs in fourth.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester City have been in scintillating form in the last few weeks (bar being knocked out of the EFL Cup to West Ham, a fate United also suffered in the previous round), and have scored 18 goals since the beginning of October, and conceded just 5.
In their last game, they thumped Club Brugge 4-1 at home after blowing them away 5-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the Champions League season. Basically, they are on fire at the moment. Yikes.
It doesn’t really get much better for United. In the last match against Atalanta, new signing Raphaël Varane was forced off after just 30 minutes with a hamstring problem, and Solskjær has confirmed that he will be out injured for up to five weeks.
Another absentee for United is Paul Pogba, who will be serving the second of his three-match ban for a red card he collected against Liverpool. On the plus side, Ole has confirmed that Victor Lindelof should be able to make the matchday squad, however he does not yet know if he is in contention to start.Embed from Getty Images
For City, there are two main injuries. Ferran Torres has been sidelined with a foot injury he sustained while on international duty earlier in the month, and Kyle Walker is a doubt after coming off with a knock in midweek.
Pep Guardiola has confirmed that he will not know about the fitness of Walker until gameday.
Yet another season defining game
This is the third game in seven days that can be seen as a season defining for United. Ole Gunnar is clearly in an inredibly dangerous situation, although he’s playing it cool in front of the media. If tomorrow’s match ends in a loss, who knows what could happen during the international break…