We look ahead to Sunday’s huge derby clash with our Manchester United vs Manchester City prediction and preview. Can the Red Devils move within three points of their rivals?

Manchester United vs Manchester City: The Quick Hits

  • Despite Manchester United’s recent upturn, the Opta supercomputer makes Manchester City favourites for Sunday’s derby, giving the champions a 50.2% chance of victory.
  • Arsène Wenger (12) is the only manager to win more Premier League games against Man Utd than Pep Guardiola (seven). Of every boss to face the Red Devils 10 times in the competition, Guardiola is the only one to win at least 50% of his games against them (7/14).
  • Bruno Fernandes has scored in his last two games against City. The last Man Utd player to net in three successive Manchester derbies was Paul Scholes in 2003-04.

Match Preview

One of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures of the Premier League season rounds off Matchday 10 as Manchester United welcome rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford. Having been on the verge of a major crisis just weeks ago, the Red Devils have calmed the waters somewhat with three successive – albeit unconvincing – victories, and they approach Sunday’s tussle just six points behind City in the league table.

Having earned hard-fought 2-1 Premier League wins over Brentford and Sheffield United either side of the international break, Erik ten Hag’s men finally got their UEFA Champions League campaign up and running with Tuesday’s dramatic 1-0 victory against Copenhagen.

It wasn’t plain sailing, but Ten Hag was pleased to see two of his most scrutinised players silence their doubters, with Harry Maguire nodding Christian Eriksen’s cross home before André Onana saved a stoppage-time penalty from Copenhagen’s Jordan Larsson, son of former United striker Henrik Larsson.

Old Trafford has now played host to two dramatic finishes in a row. In United’s last home league game, Scott McTominay came on in the 87th minute to net a match-winning stoppage-time brace against Brentford, and the Scotland international followed that up by opening the scoring at Sheffield United last Saturday. He has more goals in his last two Premier League appearances (three) than in his previous 70 (two), with those strikes earning the Red Devils five points to reinvigorate their top-four hopes.

McTominay has played alongside Sofyan Amrabat in United’s last two games, but the duo face competition from Casemiro ahead of Sunday’s contest, with the Brazilian having recovered from the knock that sidelined him at Bramall Lane.

Further forward, Bruno Fernandes could follow in the footsteps of a United legend; having scored in the last two Manchester derbies of 2022-23, including a penalty in June’s FA Cup final defeat at Wembley Stadium. The last United player to net in three successive games against City across all competitions was Paul Scholes in 2003-04.

Marcus Rashford joined Fernandes on the scoresheet when United overcame City in league action in January. Rashford has yet to find form this season, though, only scoring one Premier League goal (in a defeat to Arsenal) from 33 shots totalling 3.1 expected goals (xG).

Man City, meanwhile, are looking to build some momentum after recovering from a wobble of their own prior to the international break, when Rodri’s suspension cost them dearly in back-to-back Premier League defeats to Wolves and Arsenal.

Goals from deadly duo Julián Álvarez and Erling Haaland ensured they got back to winning ways in the Premier League last week, with Brighton beaten 2-1 as City posted a 21st successive home victory – a new record for a Premier League club across all competitions.

Pep Guardiola record vs Manchester United

Haaland took centre stage again as City returned to European action in midweek, ending the longest Champions League goal drought of his career (543 minutes) with a brace as the holders won 3-1 at Young Boys. Manuel Akanji was also on target in his native Switzerland, but he is suspended for Sunday’s derby after receiving two yellow cards against Brighton.

Despite Pep Guardiola’s concerns, City managed to avoid any injuries on Young Boys’ artificial pitch. Kyle Walker was rested and will surely start in Akanji’s absence on Sunday, with John Stones, Rúben Dias and Josko Gvardiol likely to join him in the champions’ starting lineup.

Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden – who scored his first senior hat-trick when City thrashed United 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium last October – should also return after being benched on Wednesday. The hosts will be without long-term absentees Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia; City academy player Jadon Sancho remains exiled by Ten Hag.

Guardiola boasts a strong record in this fixture, winning seven of his 14 Premier League games against United. Arsène Wenger is the only coach to record more victories against the Red Devils in the competition (12), while Guardiola is the only boss to face them 10 or more times and win at least half of those matches.

Manchester United vs Manchester City Head-to-Head

The last meeting between the teams came in June’s FA Cup final, with İlkay Gündoğan scoring twice as City moved one step closer to the treble with a 2-1 triumph. Gündoğan’s opener, a stunning volley that beat David de Gea after 12 seconds, was the fastest goal in FA Cup final history.

City also struck first when the teams last met in the Premier League, with Jack Grealish nodding them ahead at Old Trafford in January. However, United rallied for a 2-1 win with the help of Fernandes’ controversial equaliser, scored when Rashford – who approached the ball before letting it run – appeared to be offside.

Man Utd vs Man City xG map January 2023

United could now win back-to-back home league games against their neighbours for the first time in the post-Alex Ferguson era, having last done so between 2008-09 and 2010-11 (a run of three).

City, however, have a good record at Old Trafford, recording more Premier League victories there (eight) than any other visiting side. Seven of those eight wins have come in their last 12 visits.

Indeed, City have gone from ‘noisy neighbours’ to the dominant force in this rivalry, winning 13 of their 24 Premier League games against United since the start of 2011-12 (three draws, eight defeats).

Their previous 13 league wins over the Red Devils came in the space of 62 meetings between 1970 and 2011.

Recent Form

While their performances have been criticised, United have enjoyed something of an upturn in recent weeks. Ten Hag’s team have won their last two Premier League games, having lost four of their previous six (two wins).

All five of their league wins in 2023-24 – against Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Brentford and Sheffield United – have been by a one-goal margin, with four coming via a goal scored in the final 15 minutes, Burnley being the exception.

The champions, meanwhile, have lost their last two away games in the Premier League, going down to Wolves and Arsenal prior to the most recent international break. As such, they’ve fallen behind Tottenham at the top of the table.

They last suffered three consecutive away league defeats in 2020, either side of the COVID-19-enforced shutdown. The first game in that sequence was a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford, which was followed by defeats to Chelsea and Southampton.    

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Manchester United vs Manchester City Prediction

Manchester United vs Manchester City Prediction Opta

Despite City enduring a shaky run on the road recently, the Opta supercomputer backs the champions to get the job done in Sunday’s headline fixture.

Across 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, City were victorious in 50.8% of scenarios. United are assigned a 22.5% chance of a win, with the likelihood of a draw rated at 26.7%.

In the supercomputer’s season predictions, City remain overwhelming favourites to secure a record-breaking fourth successive top-flight title. They finish top of the pile in 75.4% of our simulations, with Liverpool (11.7%) and Arsenal (10%) most likely to dethrone them.

United, meanwhile, are considered outsiders for Champions League qualification, only managing a top-four finish in 4.2% of simulations.

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