Manchester United will face arch-rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday’s Premier League derby.
The Red Devils had a disappointing month of February, dropping six points in the league while suffering a shock FA Cup fourth round exit to Middlesbrough.
United are currently fourth in the league standings with 47 points, but are just two ahead of West Ham and Arsenal. The latter have three games in hand over them.
Hence, Sunday’s Manchester derby appears a must-win for them. It remains to be seen whether they can continue their recent impressive record at the Etihad.
Manchester United have won in their previous three trips to the stadium with two of those victories coming in the league. They face a tough task of extending the streak.
Here is how Manchester United could line up for the Manchester derby:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea has been ever-present in Man Utd’s Premier League campaign. He has made outstanding saves in almost every game, but has just seven clean sheets to show for his efforts. The Spaniard could have another busy game between the sticks with the backline being vulnerable this season.
Shaw returns in defence
Defence: Aaron Wan-Bissaka has started the last two league games for the Red Devils, and appears likely to keep his place at right-back. He has been hugely impressive in negating the threat of Raheem Sterling in recent Manchester derbies, and could have a similar role on Sunday.
Prior to the goalless draw against Watford last weekend, interim boss Ralf Rangnick quite clearly stated that the decision to drop Harry Maguire to the bench was tactical. Considering this, we fancy Victor Lindelof to keep his place alongside Raphael Varane in central defence. The duo were solid against the Hornets, though they were partly helped by the lack of intent from Roy Hodgson’s side.
Luke Shaw has been the regular starter for Man Utd since the winter break. The Watford game was the first time that he was benched last month with Alex Telles getting the nod. The £37.8m-rated star was probably handed a breather, and should be fancied to reclaim his starting role at left-back.
Midfield: Scott McTominay has returned to training after missing the last two games with an illness. He may not be drafted straight into the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Nemanja Matic impressed with his long-range distribution against Watford, but his limited mobility could hamper his starting prospects versus City.
We fancy Fred to partner Paul Pogba in the centre of the park. Fred has put in some strong defensive displays in the Manchester derby in the past. His work rate probably gives him the edge over Matic. Pogba has been one of Manchester United’s best players since his return from a thigh injury. The Frenchman has two goals in four league meetings against the Cityzens. Both came during the stunning 3-2 comeback win in 2018.
Attack: United’s attack has misfired over the past month with several clear-cut chances missed. Jadon Sancho has squandered a few one-on-one opportunities, but has been lively cutting inside from the left wing. He should return to the starting XI, having started on the bench against Watford.
The rest of the line-up could remain identical. Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo missed golden chances against the Hornets, but remain the best attacking options available to Rangnick. Ronaldo has netted just once since the turn of the year, but should lead the line for Man Utd. Edinson Cavani has just returned to full training after a groin issue while Marcus Rashford has been out-of-form.
Anthony Elanga may get the nod over Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the right wing, having had a positive performance last weekend. The Swede was unable to find the back of the net, but impressed with his direct running and clever cutbacks from the right flank. Having scored off the bench in the previous two games, he should be handed another start.
Expected Man Utd line-up vs Man City