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Manchester United v Manchester City - The Opposition

A Look At City’s Derby Opponents

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

It’s Derby Day in Manchester, a time when emotions run high, bragging rights are up for grabs and both sets of supporters stop talking to each other at work for a week. The two teams have a long history, dating back over 130 years. United hold the upper hand over the blues, particularly at Old Trafford, but City have had their share of wins in Stretford in recent years too.

United will be aiming to inflict City’s third defeat of the season, while the blues want to avenge last season’s controversial 2-1 defeat and see a fifth loss of the season for the reds. Here, we take a look at the opposition, their strengths, key players and threat they pose to the blues.


United have won their last three fixtures, but have been very unconvincing in the process. They survived a late scare at home to Copenhagen when the visitors missed a last minute penalty, whilst also scraping wins at Sheffield United and at home to Brentford, both 2-1.

The Stretford Rangers have also lost their opening two Champions League fixtures to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray, whilst also losing at home to Brighton (1-3) and Crystal Palace (0-1). The reds also scraped home wins over Nottingham Forest (3-2) and Wolves (1-0) and currently sit in 8th position, six points behind City, 11 behind leaders Spurs and five points off the Champions League places.

With just 11 goals, they are the lowest-scoring team in the top ten and have conceded 13 in the league so far. It’s that kind of stats that, on paper, should see the blues take the three points but, as usual in a derby, anything can happen. And it usually does.

Danger Men

United’s top player at the moment is Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who is their top scorer with four goals so far this season. He is a doubt for Sunday’s match, but the blues will have to be prepared to face the former Real Madrid man at Old Trafford.

Scott McTominay has weighed in with the goals, scoring three so far and the man the media compared to Erling Haaland, Rasmus Hojlund, also has three goals to his name. Worryingly for City, McTominay’s three goals came in their last two league matches and the blues will have to watch the Scot very closely to ensure he doesn’t continue that form on Sunday. Hojlund is yet to score in the league and his goals have been so far limited to the Champions League. Let’s hope this continues on Sunday.

Setting up the chances in the middle for United is no one’s favourite midfielder Bruno Fernandes. The Reds whinger-in-chief has three assists so far this season and has created 31 chances, the most in the United side. The Portuguese whiner has attempted the most passes with 561, but has only completed 503, giving him a pass accuracy of just 77%.

Marcus Rashford also has three assists to his name and has created 15 chances so far. he has attempted 331 passes from midfield and completed 270, giving him a pass accuracy percentage of 82%. We can almost hear Bruno moaning about that!

If he plays, City will also need to keep an eye on Victor Lindelof. The Swedish defender may be overlooked as a star at Old Trafford, but Lindelof has played the same amount of games as Fernandes and Rashford (12), created 7 chances, one of which has been taken and attempted 627 passes, the third-highest in the team. Remarkably, Lindelof completed 571 of those passes, which gives him a pass accuracy of 91%.

The Boss

Pep Guardiola wannbe Erik Ten Hag is the latest man tasked with a double mission at Old Trafford - bringing the glory days back to the Stretford Rangers and stopping United fans from living in the past.

The former Dutch defender was a revelation in his first season at Old Trafford. He took the team back into the Champions League, won the League Cup (now a major trophy once more) and lead his team to the FA Cup Final. But his real achievements come in the form of losing his first two matches in charge at home to Brighton (1-2) and away to Brentford (0-4), before being hammered at City (3-6) and Liverpool (0-7).

The new manager also had a golden opportunity to stop City’s march towards the treble, which he failed to do as the blues took the FA Cup in the Wembley showpiece.

He has presided over 75 United matches, winning 48 and losing 18, giving him a win ratio of 64%.

Last Time at Old Trafford

In January, United emerged victorious in the Manchester Derby as a dodgy referee decision helped them back into the game. With City leading 1-0 following Jack Grealish’s second-half goal, United were gifted a goal by the referee. Rashford was clearly offside and impeding play, before Fernandes scored. Initially ruled offside, the ref somehow decided Rashford wasn’t interfering with play and awarded the goal. Rashford then scored a few minutes later to claim the points.

Played for Both

Despite the rivalry, there have been a number of players that have played for both sides over the years. Some are well known, others not so. Here’s a mixture of players that have degraded themselves by wearing the red of United, and covered themselves in glory for pulling on the blue of City.

Denis Law

We all know about this City legend, the man who backheeled United into the second division. Okay, let’s set this straight - United were actually already down by the time Law scored, but it was still a brilliant way to kick them out of the top flight.

Peter Beardsley

Before he became immortalised at Anfield, the man who looks like he’s been chasing parked cars joined United in 1982 from Vancouver Whitecaps. He made just one appearance before going back to Canada. In 1998, after an incredible career, Beardsley joined the blues on loan from Bolton and made just six appearances.

John Gidman

John Gidman joined City from United in 1986 and probably helped the blues get relegated the same season. He made over 50 appearances for City before leaving for Stoke in 1988.

Ryan Giggs

He may have made his name at United, but the Welsh winger was poached by United and went on to have an illustrious, trophy-laden career at Old Trafford whilst banging his sister-in-law. The scandals that City missed out on when Giggs left!

Tony Coton

TC joined City from Watford and is probably the best goalkeeper never to play for England. He joined the blues in 1990 and spent six years at the club before shaving his tash and moving to Stretford. Sadly, TC never made a first-team appearance for the reds and moved to Sunderland a year later.