Manchester City @ Manchester United 11:30am ET Sunday, NBCSN
The city of Manchester will be divided on Sunday, as their two cross-town rivals square off in what is shaping up to be one of the matches of the season. There are sooo many things to get into in this matchup so I’ll do my best to get into it all. Oh and for all you footy noobs out there, a ‘Derby’ is pronounced ‘darby’ and refers to a big rivalry game usually including teams from the same city.
History of the Derby
Man United lead the all-time series with a 72W-52D-50L record against their rivals Man City, with the first contest occurring in 1881 (cue Darren Rovell fact from 1881). Wayne Rooney has the most goals in the competition with 11. In the last 10 matches against each other, United has won 3, City has won 5 and there has been 2 draws. United actually has lost 7 of their last 12 league matches against City, as many as they had lost in their previous 45 matches.
City’s Win Streak vs. United’s Unbeaten Home Streak
Manchester City tied Chelsea for the longest Premier League win streak in one season with 13 over the weekend after a late goal from Raheem Sterling. On Sunday, they will look to break the record against United. United meanwhile are boasting a 24 match unbeaten home streak, with 14 wins and 10 draws (their last home defeat was to City in September of 2016). United could draw and keep their streak alive, but City need a win in order to add onto their record-breaking start to the season.
Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola
A rivalry in its own will be taking shape on the sidelines on Sunday. Jim Schwartz v. Jim Harbaugh, Phil Jackson v. Pat Riley and Nick Saban v. Urban Meyer have nothing on the history of Guardiola and Mourinho. Their rivalry truly hit its boiling point when they were the coaches of Real Madrid (Mourinho) and Barcelona (Guardiola), one of the biggest rivalries in sports. Matches full of drama, goals and red cards fueled the comparisons between the two managers. Their styles, demeanor and media antics are very different, as Mourinho tends to be more controversial and complicated. Once teammates, Pep and Jose turned rivals after becoming arguably the two best managers in football and coaching against each other in big rivalry matches. Guardiola leads the way in the all-time record with 7 wins to Mourinho’s 3 (6 draws) and boasts a 73% all-time win percentage to Mourinho’s 66%. Odds they stop the game to fight at midfield? -125.
Manchester City have an unprecedented lead through 15 matches in the league, with an undefeated record of 14-1-0. They sit 8 points above Manchester United and can make that lead double digits with a win, almost locking up their title hopes before the new year. But United can lower that lead to 5 points and make City start to shake in their boots with their storied rivals on their tails. If United lose, it’s time to SLAM the panic button in the west side of Manchester.
The Actual Matchup
This is where things get tough. There isn’t really any consistency in these matchups and both teams will have played a lot of matches over the last few weeks, including one this midweek. The biggest variable is the Pogba absence, as he received a red card last weekend and will be suspended for 3 matches. United with Pogba in the lineup has 7 wins and 1 draw in 8 matches. Without him they had 2 losses and 1 draw with 4 wins when he was injured earlier in the year. With him they averaged 2.75 points per match and only 1.57 without him (simply put, the odds were that they would get 3 points, or a win with him and 1 point, a draw, without him).
But with that said, Man City may be missing their most important midfielder for the last 7 seasons in David Silva. He is doubtful for the match and could be a huge blow for City in their creative attack. But Silva’s absence is different than Pogba’s in that City have the weapons to replace Silva in their free-flowing style of offense. Pogba can’t be easily replaced by United and have proven to play half as well with him out of the lineup.
As in regards to form, City received their first loss of the season in Ukraine to Shakhtar Donetsk in a meaningless Champions League match as they’ve already won their group. It was an unconvincing performance from City, but taken with a grain of salt as they started only 4/5 starters. United closed out the Champions League group stage with a win at home to CSKA Moscow, 2-1. They, like City, won their group and seem to be back to European supremacy once again. David De Gea, the United goalkeeper, showed everyone and their mother why he may very well be the best goalie in the world right now.
As for position matchups here is how I’ll breakdown position groups:
Coaching: Advantage City
Goalkeeper: Advantage United
Defense: Advantage United
Midfield: Advantage City
Attack: Advantage City
Home field advantage: Advantage United
Matchups to watch: Lukaku v. the City defense, De Bruyne v. Matic, and David De Gea v. the City attacking 3.
My pick: *MANCHESTER CITY (PICK -110)*
The Manchester Derby is never short of drama and intrigue, as they face off for the 175 time on Sunday. Between the title implications, Pep v. Jose, the streaks of both clubs and the Derby itself we are in for a treat.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace!