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Manchester United Vs Manchester City Predicted XI [Opinion]


The big one. The Manchester derby. Perhaps the biggest fixture between the two sides since 2019, when City beat United 2-0 at Old Trafford amid the 14-game winning streak that saw the Blues retain their Premier League crown. Saturday’s fixture can see City close the gap to Arsenal to just two points, whereas a victory for United can see them close the gap to the Premier League champions to just a single point.

Here is my predicted XI for the mammoth clash that is a must-win for City:

GK: Ederson

The most obvious inclusion in the XI, Ederson will need to be at his best as I believe United will come flying out of the blocks to try and unsettle the champions. The Brazilian may be forced into action quite frequently and will be needed to produce some saves, something that Ederson doesn’t excel at.

RB: Kyle Walker

Walker has all the experience for these types of encounters and excels at defending world-class wingers. The former Spurs man needs to be at his best to defend in-form Marcus Rashford. Walker’s performance depends on the position Guardiola deploys him in, if the City manager decides to invert him, I fear a similar situation as to what occurred in the 3-3 draw against Newcastle in August, where Walker was torn apart by Allan Saint-Maximin.

CB: Manuel Akanji

Manuel Akanji gets the nod over Nathan Ake for me in this fixture due to the Swiss international possessing better ability on the ball. Akanji won’t have to worry about aerial duels and the threat of new United signing Wout Weghorst. Arguably the centre backs best performance in a City shirt came in the 6-3 demolition in October against today’s opponents.

CB: Aymeric Laporte

City’s best defender available and best in possession, it’s key that Laporte is able to carry the ball and beat United’s first phase of their press. The Spaniard has been imperious as of late, and Laporte needs another masterclass to ensure City control proceedings.

LB: Joao Cancelo

I feel the majority of City fans will want to see Nathan Ake deployed at left-back for defensive stability and to avoid the threat of a lethal United counter-attack. However, with Kyle Walker in the side, City need Cancelo in the team for his progressive build-up, and ability to create from a deeper role. A huge, huge game for the Portuguese international.

CDM: Rodri

Another simple pick. The Spaniard has been at an all-time high this season, his consistency of churning out wonderful performances are keeping City in the title race. Without him, the Blues look fatigued and become extremely easy to bypass and be a goal threat. Rodri vs Casemiro is being built up as the key duel between the two sides and the Spaniard will have to replicate his brilliant form if City are to see sustained success at Old Trafford.

CM: Bernardo Silva

Bernardo has quite a love affair with Old Trafford. With a goal in 3 of his last 5 visits, the Portuguese always performs for City when they are against their biggest rivals. However, this may be Bernardo’s last derby as a City player, so I expect a performance of a lifetime. It’s imperative City assume control of the midfield, so whether Bernardo sits with Rodri or roams higher up the pitch, he needs to grab hold of the game and stamp his mark on it.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne

A monumental game faces City’s biggest weapon. De Bruyne pairs his artistry, vision and powerful transitions with aggression, interceptions and a defensive intuition that most attacking midfielders dream of. All of those attributes will be needed today. The Belgian’s pass for City’s third goal in the earlier fixture at the Etihad in October was out of this world, and I trust the two-time PFA Player of the Year will yet again prove to be the difference maker.

RW: Riyad Mahrez

The Algerian is in spellbinding form as of late and faces a tough battle today in United’s Luke Shaw. Mahrez will hold the width of Guardiola’s side and may not see the ball for extended periods, but when given possession, I expect Mahrez to be a key man for the Blues and use his majestic touch, close control and ability to cut inside to find himself on the scoresheet yet again.

ST: Erling Haaland

City’s talisman bagged himself 5 goal contributions in his derby debut, securing himself the match ball and a 10/10 rating from French publication L’Equipe, just the fourteenth perfect performance ever given out by the magazine, a testament to Haaland’s unbelievable game. Haaland today will be tasked with occupying Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, and if United decide to adopt a different strategy from the reverse fixture, and play a higher line to press City and force the Blues into errors, space will open up for the Norwegian to pounce. I feel Haaland will notch his 22nd Premier League goal of the season today and what a game to do it in.

LW: Phil Foden

In my Southampton player ratings, I explained how I think Foden will lose his place in the side for the Derby for the security, slower tempo and the retention of possession that Jack Grealish offers. However, like Haaland, Foden is coming off a hat-trick in his last derby appearance and I feel there is no better fixture for the Englishman to kickstart his season again. I want Foden to be aggressive, decisive in his final ball and commit to taking on his marker. Foden needs to rediscover playing without fear, as the Englishman oozes class with every action when he’s playing with confidence.


Ortega, Lewis, Ake, Gomez, Philips. Gundogan, Grealish, Palmer, Alvarez


Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

Rashford(1), Haaland(1), Mahrez(1)

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