Competition/Round: 2018/19 English Premier League Season – Matchday 35
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger, Simon Long
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson
TV Info: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA)
Live Stream: SKY GO Extra (UK); NBC Sports Live, Fubo.tv (USA) Fubo.tv shows every Manchester City game in a high-quality, legal stream. New to Fubo.tv? Click here to sign up for a discounted rate.
Radio: BBC Radio Manchester (UK); TalkSport Radio World (USA)
Four matches remain in the 2018/19 English Premier League season. Manchester United will host Manchester City for the 178 Manchester derby, and there is a lot riding on this match.
Having played 34 games, Manchester United find themselves in a peculiar situation. The Red Devils are currently in sixth place in the table, albeit three points separate the teams between third and sixth. With four EPL games remaining, this will be a crucial period for Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Should United hope to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, they will have to win their final four matches. They will also need some help from other opponents to achieve this goal.
Their recent form, however, has been poor. The Red Devils have only scored three goals in their last five matches in all competitions and were shut out in three of them. They also failed to keep a clean sheet in all five matches, and United lost four of these five fixtures.
With this information in mind, United need to find their goal scoring form, and fast. Should they fail to achieve this task, they will be without Champions League football next season.
Aside from defining the top four, however, this match will also play a major role in deciding this season’s title race. Manchester City are currently two points behind league leaders Liverpool, but the Sky Blues have a game in hand. Should City win this fixture, they will reclaim the top spot of the league with three matches to play. Moreover, City currently have a better goal differential and have scored more goals than Liverpool this season, hence City would win the second and third tie breakers.
In other words, the objective for City is simple: win their remaining four fixtures and they will mathematically be guaranteed the EPL title. This, of course, will be difficult. Should they fail to achieve this objective, however, Liverpool will likely win their first title in the EPL era.
Having recently been eliminated from the Champions League, City responded well to this heartbreak by defeating Tottenham over the weekend. The derby, however, will pose a different threat to their title aspirations and thus the Sky Blues will need to plan accordingly.
Therefore, the ramifications of this match are very high. How will the Manchester derby shape this year’s title race?
Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly Bertrand, Luis Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones are injured and will not feature in this match.
Having been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals by Barcelona, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will likely field his best players in order to help United secure a top four finish. This could see the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Fred make way in the starting lineup.
This will be City’s eighth fixture this month, and with this year’s EPL title race coming likely down to the final day of the season, City manager Pep Guardiola will want rest some of his players to keep them fresh. Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker, who played large roles in the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals and the match against Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend, may be rested.
De Gea; Nilsson, Smalling, Rojo, Young; McTominay, Matić, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ederson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Gündoğan, Fernandinho, D. Silva; B. Silva, Jesus, Sané
Manager: Pep Guardiola
The derby will be a season defining match. Should United win, they will likely finish in the top four whilst City would concede the EPL title to Liverpool. Alternatively, should the Sky Blues win, they would be one step closer to retaining the title whilst the Red Devils would miss out on a place in the Champions League next season. A draw would not help either side.
First, United. Following the announcement of Solskjaer as United’s new manager, they have failed to perform in a series of key matches. Under his tenure, Manchester United were eliminated from the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the competition’s Quarter-finals, and were eliminated from the Champions League in the Quarter-finals by Barcelona. Whilst the latter may be forgiven, United also lost their recent EPL fixtures against Wolverhampton and Everton, where these results now see United in sixth place in the EPL.
The path forward will not be easy for the Red Devils. Following their midweek match against City, they will then host Chelsea over the weekend in what will have major implications for a potential top four finish.
Meanwhile, City’s objective, like for most of the 2019 calendar year, remains the same. Should the Sky Blues win their remaining EPL matches this season, they will reclaim the EPL title. They must first focus on their game in hand against United on Wednesday, but should they be victorious, the Sky Blues will conclude their campaign against clubs that are in the bottom half of the table.
City will have a lot of work to do on Wednesday, but their resolve on Saturday against Tottenham saw that they are a strong side capable of responding when under pressure. This desire and drive may be just enough to overcome their rivals in midweek. It will not be easy, but it is predicted City will just edge out at the end of this affair.
Advantage City in the title race, and it will be everything to play for in the final three matches of this season’s EPL title race.
Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City