Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview and Combined XI

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Image from Sky Sports
It's all eyes on the Etihad this weekend as the 179th Manchester Derby kicks off at 17:30 on Saturday. Both teams are desperate for three points for different reasons, with City attempting to keep alive their slim hopes of hanging on to Liverpool's coat-tails while United will be trying to leap-frog Wolves before they play Brighton on Sunday. City will be without their talismanic striker Sergio Aguero, although Gabriel Jesus showed against Burnley on Tuesday that he's a more than capable replacement, while United's main absentee once again is Paul Pogba who is rumoured to be out until the Everton game on the 15th.

The win against Spurs in midweek appears to have taken the pressure off Solskjær, whose position had become the subject of much speculation in the wake of Pochettino's return to labour market availability. Ed Woodward supposedly canvassed the opinion of the players recently, with the unanimous verdict being that the squad are happy with the manager and the direction in which he's taking the club. A heavy defeat to a returning Mourinho may have overridden those sentiments, however, United turned in a solid performance and sent their opponents back down the M6 empty handed.

Manchester City will certainly offer a stiffer test than a disjointed Tottenham could muster, although their defensive frailties should allow an in-form Rashford and the effervescent Dan James to create goalscoring opportunities. The key to beating City lies in shutting down the press and keeping the ball in their half of the pitch, which is easier said than done, although United were able to do this effectively against Liverpool recently, so there is hope.

Combined XI: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Laporte, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, McTominay, Silva, Rashford, Jesus, Sterling.

Other than Pogba, United are still without Bailly, Dalot and Fosu-Mensah, while Martial and Matic may be fit enough to at least make the bench. If Martial is not ready for first team action I can't imagine Solskjær looking much further than the team that started against Spurs, although Pereira's energy and disruptive presence may be a preferred option to Lingard behind the front three.

Predicted XI: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Young, McTominay, Fred, Pereira, James, Rashford, Greenwood.




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