Pep Guardiola looks to pile further pressure on Erik ten Hag in Sunday’s huge Manchester derby. We look ahead to the game with our Manchester City vs Manchester United prediction and preview.

  • Of 10,000 match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer ahead of Sunday’s derby, Manchester City won 61.9% to Manchester United’s 15%.
  • Man Utd suffered their 10th loss of the Premier League season against Fulham last week. Only in 2013-14 and 2021-22 (both 12) have they lost more games in a single campaign.
  • Against no team has Erling Haaland scored more Premier League goals than his five against Man Utd. Only Sergio Agüero (eight) has ever netted more against Man Utd for Man City.

Match Preview

The first Manchester derby of the season provided one of the low points of Erik ten Hag’s second campaign with Manchester United, as the Red Devils were thrashed 3-0 by Manchester City at a disgruntled Old Trafford in October. Four months on, Ten Hag is still under pressure, and a trip to the Etihad Stadium looks like the last thing he needs. Is another tough outing on the horizon?

It looked like United may just have put their season back on track when they won four straight Premier League games, but they suffered a familiar sinking feeling last week as Alex Iwobi’s 97th-minute strike past André Onana fired Fulham to a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. United have now suffered 10 Premier League defeats this term, only recording more in a single season in 2013-14 and 2021-22 (both 12).

With Aston Villa visiting Luton Town in Saturday’s late kick-off, United could find themselves 11 points adrift of a UEFA Champions League spot by the time Sunday’s derby begins. The Red Devils did at least keep their hopes of silverware alive with Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, Casemiro’s late header teeing up a huge quarter-final clash with Liverpool.

Ten Hag has spent much of this week defending his methods after criticism from pundits including Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher. United have been accused of lacking control this term, conceding 43.3 expected goals against (xGA) in 26 Premier League games and facing 417 shots. Only Sheffield United (447), West Ham (434) and Luton (428) have faced more attempts on their goal. 

Manchester United Shots Faced

Ten Hag has also hit back at criticism of Bruno Fernandes, who he believes was targeted by a physical Forest team. The Portuguese has won just 18 fouls in the Premier League this season, though, some 60 short of the division’s most fouled player, Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimarães.

Fernandes, who could make his 150th Premier League appearance on Sunday, leads all players in the competition for chances created this term (74). However, his rate of a goal or an assist every 281 minutes in 2023-24 is his worst in any of his five campaigns in England.

Marcus Rashford – who is currently on a five-game scoreless streak – should start in attack for United, while Ten Hag still has a lengthy injury list to contend with. None of Rasmus Højlund, Mason Mount, Harry Maguire or Aaron Wan-Bissaka are likely to return this week, while Tyrell Malacia, Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martínez are long-term absentees.

He has a decision to make out wide after handing Omari Forson a start against Fulham, only to restore Antony to United’s lineup against Forest. Since scoring in each of his first three Premier League games last season, Antony has netted once in 42 subsequent matches, and the Brazilian has yet to register a goal involvement in 20 league appearances, totalling 931 minutes, in 2023-24. 

Man City have made a habit of tormenting their neighbours since Pep Guardiola took charge in 2016, with the former Barcelona boss winning eight of his 15 Manchester derbies in the Premier League (two draws, five losses). Guardiola is the only manager to face United 10 or more times in the competition and win at least half of those games, while only Arsène Wenger (12) has beaten them more often.

Guardiola’s side were more convincing in their own FA Cup win, routing Luton 6-2 at Kenilworth Road as Erling Haaland scored five goals in a game for the second time, having previously done so against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last year.

Haaland has now scored 79 goals in 83 appearances for City in all competitions since his debut in July 2022, at least 30 more than any other Premier League player during that time, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah next with 49.

Erling Haaland Manchester City Goals

The Norwegian has five Premier League goals against United, including a hat-trick in this exact fixture last season, which City won 6-3. Against no team has he netted more often in the competition, while only Sergio Agüero (eight) has more Manchester derby goals for the Citizens in the Premier League.

Four of Haaland’s strikes against Luton were assisted by Kevin De Bruyne, who failed to register an assist in his first 10 Premier League games against United but has since managed four in his last three against them. He will be looking to add an assist in this game to move further up the all-time Premier League assist ranking, where he’s currently third (106), behind only Cesc Fàbregas (111) and Ryan Giggs (162).

Haaland’s deadly partnership with De Bruyne has been key to City’s recent success, but United must also pay close attention to Phil Foden. He joined Haaland in scoring a treble in this fixture last term, and he has also been involved in nine goals in his last 10 league games (five goals, four assists). 

The champions only have a couple of fitness concerns ahead of this game, with Jack Grealish a doubt after sustaining a groin problem in midweek. Jérémy Doku could start in his place, while Josko Gvardiol will be assessed after missing two matches with a recurrence of an ankle issue.

Nathan Aké could continue at left-back, where he started in the midweek FA Cup win over Luton in a back four that also consisted of Manuel Akanji, John Stones and Kyle Walker.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Head-to-Head

Man City have won four of their last five Premier League meetings with United (one defeat), as many victories as they managed in their previous 13 against them (three draws, six losses).

Haaland scored twice and Foden joined him on the scoresheet as City won the return fixture 3-0, with Haaland’s opener coming from a controversial penalty after Højlund was adjudged to have dragged Rodri down.

Man Utd 0-3 Man City Stats

United have also lost their last two Premier League visits to the Etihad Stadium, going down 4-1 in 2021-22 and 6-3 in 2022-23.

The Red Devils last endured a longer run of successive away league defeats to City between August 1952 and September 1955, losing four in a row.

If any United fans are looking for a glimmer of hope, no fixture in Premier League history has seen more away wins than the Manchester derby (22, level with Aston Villa vs Liverpool).

Indeed, of all 54 fixtures to be played at least 40 times in the competition, this game has the highest proportion of away wins (42% – 22/53).

Recent Form

Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 18 games across all competitions, winning 16 and playing out draws with Crystal Palace and Chelsea. Both of those stalemates did come at the Etihad Stadium, however.

Guardiola’s men do tend to put on a show at home, though, scoring in each of their last 54 home matches in all competitions. A goal on Sunday would see them equal their club-record streak of 55 successive home games with a goal, set between January 2012 and January 2014.

They have won their last two Premier League matches 1-0 – against Bournemouth away and Brentford at home – following a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at the Etihad. They have never won three consecutive Premier League games under Guardiola by a 1-0 scoreline.

The hosts could also keep three successive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since December 2021, but they haven’t shut out United twice in the same league campaign since 1973-74.

Perhaps playing away from Old Trafford might ease some of the pressure on United, who have won their last six on the road in all competitions, having failed to win any of their last five to end 2023 (two draws, three losses).

Granted, the first two of those away wins came against lower-league opposition in the FA Cup (Wigan Athletic and Newport County), but they’ve since beaten top-flight opponents in the last four – Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest.

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 this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Prediction

Manchester City vs Manchester United prediction opta

Gone are the days of the Manchester derby being viewed as a 50-50 contest. Of 10,000 pre-match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer, Man City won 61.9%.

Manchester United took all three points in just 15.0% of scenarios, with 23.1% finishing level.

In the supercomputer’s season predictions, City are still title favourites, retaining their crown in 51.5% of simulations, though Liverpool (34.1%) and Arsenal (14.3%) remain viable contenders.

United, meanwhile, finish sixth in a league-high 39.6% of scenarios, only inching into the top four in 3.5% of simulations, which is below both Tottenham Hotspur (33.2%) and Aston Villa (62.6%), but above both Newcastle United (0.5%) and Brighton & Hove Albion (0.3%).

The Red Devils may be handed a lifeline, however, with the Premier League looking likely to be handed an extra UEFA Champions League spot for next season which would go to the team finishing fifth place in the standings. They have a 18.7% chance of finishing in the top five.

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