Okay, so I must admit in this entire premier league fixture reshuffling hullabaloo, I had lost track of this one! The Manchester derby. A few weeks ago this sensational, historic and globally renowned encounter was rescheduled to the disappointment of fans all over the world. And now, here we are. It’s almost the end of the season and there’s still some super exciting football left to play in the premier league!
The two Manchester clubs are now out of the premier league title race. While United have already procured some silverware with this year’s League cup, City’s dream of bagging a trophy is now all but over. The pressure on the Citizen’s manager Pep Guardiola to maintain a winning streak in the remaining six league fixtures has mounted, as the race for a top-4 finish has not been this competitive in recent years.
Last week Mourinho’s United outclassed Chelsea in ways no team has this season with the exception of Arsenal (who, to be fair, beat a much more disorganized Chelsea). Bottomline is that Manchester United will go into this game with confidence on their side. While City enjoys home field advantage they will have to ensure they approach this game with no dearth of aggression and passion.
As always, there is little doubt that the second Manchester Derby leg this year will be as power packed, physical and exciting. Both teams are determined to grab a Champions League spot, and send out an emphatic message to their fans and opponents!
Perhaps the biggest setback for United before this monstrous fixture is the unavailability of star duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. With Mourinho’s men also focused on going all out on the Europa League title, the Portuguese mastermind will keep his cards close to his chest while rotating his squad from this point onward. The red devils will also be hampered by the absence of defensive commander-in-chief Chris Smalling, along with Marco Rojo, Phil Jones and versatile attacker Juan Mata. However Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera will be available for this one, and it is also likely that United skipper Wayne Rooney will start up front.
Pep Guardiola has confirmed that David Silva is certain to miss this game, although Sergio Aguero, who along with Silva, received a knock in the semifinal against Arsenal, is likely to be available. Among other absentees are Gabriel Jesus, Bacary Sagna and John Stones, neither of whom played against Arsenal.
- Jose Mourinho has not won any of his last four encounters with Manchester City, having drawn two and lost two. Further, Mourinho has only won four of his last 18 meetings with Guardiola, drawn six and lost eight, although United did beat City in the EFL Cup back in October!
- Wayne Rooney has scored more goals in this derby than any other player (11).
- Sergio Aguero has not scored in his last two encounters against United, but has scored a eight goals in 10 competitive games against them.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in 23 consecutive league games and if they were to win in this one, they would have achieved their longest ever winning streak.
The Manchester Derbies have been special this year. While two highly talented teams will compete on turf, their respective managers, who have been rivals since they were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the La Liga, will be on their toes on the lines, paying very close attention to each other.
Time: 12:30 AM (IST) 28th April, 2017. 8:00 PM (GMT) 27th April
Venue: Etihad Stadium Ashton New Rd, Manchester M11 3FF, UK
Note: Viewers in India can catch this game live on Star Sports Select HD1/HD2