Eight reasons why Manchester United can beat Man City in Premier League fixture

Eight reasons why Manchester United can beat Man City in Premier League fixture
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Elanga could be key in Manchester United’s hopes of beating Manchester City. (Image: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images.)

Manchester United make the short trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon to lock horns with Manchester City as big underdogs

Manchester United are looking to defy the odds and disrupt Manchester City’s Premier League title charge when they travel to the Etihad Stadium this afternoon (Sunday, 4.30pm kick off UK time).

Currently 19 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the table, United are overwhelming underdogs ahead of the 187th competitive meeting between the two clubs. So while City are looking to retain their Premier League crown, United — despite splashing out more than £120million on world-class talent last summer — are facing a fight just to finish inside the top-four.

United will enter the contest off the back of a disappointing goalless draw with Watford last weekend and City will be targeting a third successive win after victories over Everton and Peterborough in the past week or so. With that in mind, United are not fancied to cause a stir and scoop all three points.

But whilst you may be thinking that United have no chance at all on Sunday afternoon, form can often fly out of the window on derby day. Furthermore, unexpected drama is almost certainly guaranteed in some capacity.

With that said, here are eight reasons why United’s supporters should have some optimism going into the game:

1. United’s Etihad record

Although City have dominated the football scene in Manchester in recent years, they have not had things all their own way when United have visited the Etihad of late. The Reds have won their last three visits in league and cup and won four of their last five on City territory.

That has to count for something. United have entered all of those contests as the lesser fancied team and risen to the challenge each and every time, either by grinding out an ugly 1-0 win or staging a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down.

As well as that, United, as ever, will be backed by a sold-out away end and they will make their voices heard, just as they did at both Elland Road and the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in recent weeks. The 12th man will be key.

2. The derby history

Anything can happen, right? Yes, City are currently flying high and are in a position that United can only dream about, but nothing can be ruled out on derby day.

As mentioned above, nothing can be taken for granted when these two meet and the form book, most of the time, is torn up and thrown into the nearest bin.

For instance, who would have thought that City would have turned up at Old Trafford in October 2011 to face an unbeaten United side in the Premier League so far that season and win 6-1? Nobody.

3. Tottenham have shown it isn’t impossible

With the utmost respect to Tottenham Hotspur, they have hardly set the world alight this season. Chasing the final Champions League spot, just like United, their fans travelled to the Etihad a fortnight ago no doubt anticipating another defeat against one of the big-six.

As mentioned above, nothing can be taken for granted when these two meet and the form book, most of the time, is torn up and thrown into the nearest bin.

For instance, who would have thought that City would have turned up at Old Trafford in October 2011 to face an unbeaten United side in the Premier League so far that season and win 6-1? Nobody.

3. Tottenham have shown it isn’t impossible

With the utmost respect to Tottenham Hotspur, they have hardly set the world alight this season. Chasing the final Champions League spot, just like United, their fans travelled to the Etihad a fortnight ago no doubt anticipating another defeat against one of the big-six.

However, in true, unexpected Premier League fashion, they produced an excellent away performance to win 3-2. Although they won it in dramatic fashion, and had just 29 per cent of the ball, they executed Antonio Conte’s approach to perfection.

United are capable of a similar performance.

4. United can replicate previous tactics

Although United’s plan to hit City on the break failed miserably at Old Trafford back in November, it will be different this time. United are away from home and opening up against City at the Etihad is a recipe for disaster, especially if Guardiola’s troops are firing on all cylinders.

With Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga all capable of carrying the ball at their feet with speed, United must look to hit City on the counter-attack. It may prove to be a waiting game, but as proven in their 2021 and 2019 triumphs, having more of the ball means nothing.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

On current form, it may sound foolish to suggest that Ronaldo can play a pivotal part in United’s attempts to bring City to their knees. However, a player of his stature and quality does not suddenly become a bad player overnight.

Experienced in playing in big matches, both domestically and in Europe, Ronaldo will be determined to leave his calling card — especially after failing to score in his last three games in all competitions. United will need to make the use of their wide players, however, to ensure he can produce his magic.

Crosses into the box will be key for him.

6. Anthony Elanga

Young. Fearless. Energetic. Elanga will be relishing his almost certain first taste of a Manchester derby.

Similar to when Rashford experienced this fixture for the first time in March 2016, Elanga is likely to be the player that United’s supporters will feast their eyes on in hope of inspiration. After scoring against Atletico and Leeds, confidence will be flowing through the winger’s veins.

He will be key in trying to help United hurt City on the counter-attack. As well as that, you can almost sense that his first derby day experience could feature a fairytale moment.

7. Ruben Dias’ absence

It is hard to spot a weakness at any juncture in City’s squad. However, the loss of Dias ahead of the derby is bound to be felt by the Blues.

It can surely only increase United’s chances of victory. So often the man that is the glue that holds City’s defence together, Dias will be sorely missed. But with John Stones likely to step in and line-up alongside Aymeric Laporte, City will remain strong, even if they’re not as strong as they would like to be.

8. Title race jitters

With Liverpool breathing down City’s neck at the top of the table, it is only natural that Guardiola’s side could experience some nerves. There is no room for error as far as the Blues are concerned and the defeat to Spurs showed that they can experience the odd setback.

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