Was there a more apt time for a Manchester derby? I think not. Both teams were booted out of the Champions League, and have turned their concentration to the league. While United wants to get into the top four and qualify for the next edition of Europe’s premier competition at any cost, City needs the league crown and FA Cup to satisfy their fans who were expecting the quadruple. Pep has really spoilt the team’s fans, hasn’t he?
The fact that the game takes place at Old Trafford will hugely come into play. Disregard that United might be doing a favor to Liverpool if they make City drop points, but at this crucial juncture of the season, when their future hangs in the balance, they just might not mind it.
A Manchester derby with the title on the line for City, and Champions League entry on the balance for United.
Expect one of the fiercest encounters of the season at the Theatre of Dreams this Thursday. Despite having the home advantage, United is just not prepared enough to take on the full might of City right now.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be well within his right to make 11 changes from the side that lost 4-0 to Everton yesterday. The Manchester United manager is at least bolstered by the return of Luke Shaw, who is back from a two-match ban.
Ander Herrera has missed United’s last five matches but has returned to training and could be thrust into the starting XI in midweek. Alexis Sanchez is also back from injury and could make his first start for United since the beginning of March. Juan Mata or Jesse Lingard should also come into the frame here.
Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could have no defence if they are dropped for the derby. Things aren’t ideal for Manchester City either. Kevin De Bruyne suffered another injury in Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday and won’t feature here.
Pep and his boys are hurt after the heartbreaking knockout from Champions League. They lost a place in the final four of the Champions League semis by a whisker, and they will need reparations.
While United lost five of their last seven matches, City has been in menacing form, with 23 of their last 25 fixtures resulting in wins.