Anthony Martial

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

Leave a comment
  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

Projected lineups: Man City v. Man United

Leave a comment

A feisty Manchester Derby takes center stage at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Man City and Man United need the points for their respective title and top four bids.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

With key players missing or injury doubts for both teams, there is plenty of debate about who will line up for Man City and Man United.

Below we look at how Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should set up their teams and give our own analysis of the situation.


Man City

—– Ederson —–

— Walker — Stones — FernandinhoAngelino

—- Rodri —- Silva —-

—- Bernardo —- De Bruyne —- Sterling —-

—– Jesus —–


Man United

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Young —

—- McTominay —- Fred —-

— James — Lingard — Rashford —

—– Martial —–


Analysis: Man City have a few big decisions to make in defense, with either John Stones or Nicolas Otamendi expected to partner Fernandinho at center back, with Otamendi likely to get the nod after playing against Burnley in midweek. At full back Pep has been rotating his options with Angelino maybe edging ahead of Mendy, while Walker seems to be winning the battle with Cancelo. For now. Midfield picks itself with Rodri the holder and Kevin De Bruyne playing ahead of him, but the big decisions is who out of David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan starts alongside Rodri. Up top Riyad Mahrez is pushing Bernardo Silva for a start with Raheem Sterling on the other flank and Gabriel Jesus continuing up top with Aguero out injured.

Given their injury issues, which have eased a little, Man United’s lineup choices are a little simpler. De Gea will have Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and probably Young ahead of him, while McTominay’s return in midfield is a big boost and he will likely line up with Fred. Up top they are sweating on the fitness of Anthony Martial who missed the midweek win against Tottenham and is questionable to start, but Rashford, Lingard and James are expected to start behind either Martial or Mason Greenwood.

Rashford ruins Mourinho’s Old Trafford return

Leave a comment

Marcus Rashford scored twice to ruin Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford, as Manchester United topped Spurs 2-1 on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The win propelled United ahead of Spurs and into sixth place, eight points back of the Top Four.

Dele Alli scored a wonderful goal for Tottenham, who drops into eight with 20 points.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford ruins reunion in eye-popping fashion: Put simply, Rashford was everywhere. The English center forward scored twice, the second a conversion of a penalty he won. He also smashed a distance shot that Paulo Gazzaniga saved in outstanding fashion, and completed five dribbles. A forceful day.

2. McTominay all important to banner moment for under-fire Solskjaer: Mourinho brought Scott McTominay into United’s first team, and will rue how influential the Scottish international was in marshaling the hosts’ midfield. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s future has been in question, but his game plan worked despite the absences of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. It’s a very good moment for the Norwegian’s hopes of extending life at Old Trafford.

3. Maguire, Lindelof put clamps on Kane : Tottenham’s star center forward had an awful day at the office, completing under 60 percent of his passes and managing two shots: one off target and another blocked by United.

Man of the Match: Rashford.


United took the lead when Jesse Lingard back heeled the ball to Rashford, who was wide open thanks to the laissez-faire marking of Serge Aurier. Rashford beat Paulo Gazzaniga to the near post for 1-0 in the sixth minute. The keeper will have wanted to do much better.

Spurs seemed to snap awake after the concession, and the next big moment was a slide from Daniel James that felled Mourinho on the touch line and left the United attacker requiring medical treatment.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fred won a dangerous free kick in the 17th minute, and Rashford spun it just wide of the upper 90.

Gazzaniga made a fine low save on Mason Greenwood in the 23rd, a slight bit of redemption.

Rashford was feeling it, and tore into a 30-yard shot that Gazzaniga somehow pushed off the cross bar.

Dele continued his resurgence with a gorgeous flick in traffic to fool Fred and Ashley Young before lashing past De Gea for 1-1.

Moussa Sissoko conceded a penalty to give Rashford a chance to put United in front, and the Englishman delivered the goods after a stuttering run-up.

Gazzaniga stopped a James shot in the 69th minute to keep it 2-1. Spurs kept pressing, and De Gea made a fine denial of a Dele shot deep in stoppage time.

Report: Martial to miss Man United’s clash with Spurs; McTominay returns

Leave a comment

Anthony Martial is expected to miss Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) due to injury, according to multiple reports out of the UK.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Mourinho quotes Mandela in discussing Man United return ]

Martial was subbed off late during Man United’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Sunday. Now, the 23-year-old French attacker is reportedly struggling with an injury which was come to light as the reason he was forced off.

Martial was reportedly absent from the rest of the squad at the team hotel on Wednesday, seemingly confirming his omission from the team with Tottenham visit Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Agents made $650 million from player transfers in 2019 ]

Midfielder Paul Pogba, who was also not seen at the team hotel, is nearing a return to action in the next week or two, but will once again be unavailable due to the ankle injury he suffered at the end of September.

On the bright side for United, midfielder Scott McTominay was spotted at the team hotel is expected to return after missing the last two PL games with an ankle injury.

Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Leave a comment

Intrigue is at a very high level for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday (Watch Live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

For one thing, there are table implications as United enters the day two points back of their visitors with the Top Four still in sight but in danger of slipping out of focus.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

But the bigger interest comes in the form of Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who held the position for a combustible tenure at Old Trafford which included a Europa League and FA Cup title.

Mourinho’s been somewhat validated for the work he did at United since he was fired, with chairman Ed Woodward and new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having trouble finding flagship moments in their first full year working together.

And with United staring at a Manchester Derby this weekend, a loss on Wednesday could set the stage for more significant tumult in Manchester.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester United: OUT —  Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial. QUESTIONABLE — Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic.

Tottenham Hotspur: OUT — Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Erik Lamela, Ben Davies. QUESTIONABLE — None.


Probable lineups

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pereira, Mata, James, Rashford.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Ndombele, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Son, Kane


What they’re saying

Man Utd’s Solskjaer on job uncertainty: “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s doing as well as I can, looking forward to the next game, but also look long term, plan things with board. It’s that time of year, it’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs, three in a very short space of time. Some of them, you can talk about this VAR all day long, I don’t know what the reasons are behind the sackings at different clubs, but one result — Southampton-Watford — with the handball, and we’re talking about something completely different.”

Mourinho on facing his former club: “This is a closed chapter for me. I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened and to prepare myself for the next challenge. Manchester United for me is in my book of experiences. A little bit like Mr (Nelson) Mandela was saying: ‘You never lose. You win or you learn,’.”


Prediction

Oh, wouldn’t it just be very Jose to show up to his old home and deliver a victory with his new men? Although he was smashed at Chelsea in his first return as United boss, the teams feel a bit further apart in this scenario and neither Paul Pogba nor Anthony Martial will play for the hosts. 3-1, Spurs.