One of the biggest matches in any season, the result of this derby will make waves for weeks. Manchester United come into this match in great form, winning matches without playing pretty football. However, one of the few teams in better form are their sky blue neighbours—the Citizens have been scintillating for most of the season so far, their last outing a 5-1 demolition job of Bournemouth. It’s still too early for anything to be decided by this clash, but City have a chance to bloody some noses at Old Trafford this weekend and widen the gap. On the other hand, if United manage to win, they might start to really believe they can win the title.
Jones is a player who has suffered at the hands of his own versatility. He is a central defender, and needs games alongside the imperious Chris Smalling in order to improve. Jones is expected to start this match, and having played in this fixture before knows to expect the very highest quality from his opponents. Having made just one league start so far, a good performance here could make his whole season. Can he win LvG’s trust, or will he relegate himself back to the bench?
Kevin De Bruyne
Are you watching, Mourinho? De Bruyne’s goal against Sevilla midweek, coupled with some phenomenal displays in the Premier League have made the young Belgian the acquisition of the season. So polished was his performance up top for City that he may be called upon to act as a centre-forward in the absence of Sergio Aguero. He doesn’t carry the same aerial threat that Bony might bring to the table, but he looks comfortable and assured in Pellegrini’s team and has already proven he links up well with Sterling and Silva. If he can’t get any change out of Jones and Smalling, De Bruyne will look to bring in others—and that’s arguably when he’s at his most dangerous.
His first hattrick for Manchester City has cemented what most of us already knew—Sterling is the real deal. The longer he spends learning from the top class players around him, the more effective he becomes on the field. Bournemouth had no answer to his trickery and finishing on the day—and United would do well to keep a beady eye on him. But it will be difficult, and this is precisely why City paid so much money for him—he stretches the pitch and he stretches defenders. With Kevin De Bruyne expecting to be double-marked, who will be shackling Sterling?
Martial gets the honourable nod for this match, having scored a delightful header midweek against CSKA Moscow. Bought as a youngster to develop, he now looks to be plenty good enough to start. He will cement his place in United history if he scores a winner over their hated rivals.