The first Manchester derby of the season takes place in front of the Sky cameras this Sunday – but how do the teams present themselves ahead of the showdown?
The 188th clash of rivals begins Great Sunday this weekend, hosts Manchester City are unbeaten in 19 Premier League games – dating back to a 3-2 home defeat by Tottenham in February.
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s current streak of four consecutive league wins is their longest since April 2021 – a five-game winning streak, including a 2-0 win at Etihad.
The fact that both teams are in fine form shouldn’t come as a surprise – only Chelsea’s summer spending exceeded the £227m spent at Old Trafford and City have a striker in Erling Haaland whose current batting average would see him end the season at 59 Premier to finish league goals.
It’s entirely possible that the total cost of their starting line-ups this weekend will surpass £1billion.
The bragging rights that the Manchester blues have enjoyed since Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation over nine years ago are well documented. Despite lifting just three major trophies against City’s 12 during that period and finishing an average of 17 points behind their local rivals, United have spent more money on signings than the reigning champions.
Form teams go from head to toe
While a top-four finish is Erik Ten Hag’s likely goal in his inaugural season in England, a fourth win in six league games at the Etihad would go a long way in cementing United’s radical improvement after a disastrous opening few weeks into the current campaign .
However, City’s form in front of their home crowd since April’s draw with Liverpool has been compelling.
Pep Guardiola’s side have scored three or more goals in each of their last seven home wins, the first time in their history in the top division, and are only the second team in the Premier League era – after United between December 2009 and March 2010 .
The Citizens have scored 14 goals in their first three home games in the Premier League, the most of any team in the history of the competition – along with themselves in 2019/20, United in 2011/12 and Arsenal in 2009/10 – but none of those teams lifted the Premier League trophy in those seasons.
If that’s seen as a slightly negative omen for City, it’s a positive for Sunday’s visitors that with a win they would get off to an identical start to their final title-winning season in 2012/13 (five wins and two losses from their first seven). . games).
After sobering defeats to Brighton and Brentford left Ten Hag side bottom of the table after their first two games, the approach has changed significantly in the ensuing four-game winning streak. Although the Dutch have less possession, they are more direct when in possession, try more tackles and cover significantly more distance.
They’ve sat a lot deeper in their last four games than they did in their first two losses:
If United’s impressive run is to continue on Sunday, their ability to deal with Erling Haaland’s insatiable form in front of goal will be essential.
The Norwegian has scored 14 goals in his 10 games for City, including in each of his last seven (12 goals in total). He has departed with match point in the last two Premier League home games, scoring hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.
His goal in the 3-0 win at Wolves before the international break made him the first player in Premier League history to score 11 goals in his first seven appearances in the competition. The ex-Dortmunder has had an outstanding touch-per-goal return this season – significantly higher than any other player in Premier League history so far (since Opta started recording data in 2010).
Of course, City’s threat extends beyond the summer signing: Kevin Bruyne has more assists (five) and created chances (25) than any other player in the division this season. In Rodri, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo, City have the four best passing players in the Premier League.
United have made a habit of upsetting chances on the East City getaway, winning three of their last four visits in all competitions:
There have been more away wins in any game in Premier League history (21, along with Aston Villa over Liverpool), while City’s eight Premier League wins at Old Trafford are more than any other team and United are the only team to have more Premier League games won at Etihad than they have lost.
Another win on hostile soil this Sunday would see United just two points behind their hosts in the table – certainly a statement that they are at least among the top four contenders.
With such a striking resemblance in their purchasing power over the past few years, there could be no better platform for the 13-time Premier League champions to put his money where his mouth is.
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