Posted on December 7th, 2017
There are several well-known derbies in English football: the Merseyside, the North London and the Steel City. In recent years the Manchester derby has become more and more prominent in English football thanks to the rise of Manchester City following their Abu Dhabi United Group purchase of the club back in 2008.
Since the takeover the blue half of Manchester have won two Premier League titles and are looking good to win their third in the 2017/18 season. Manchester City have not lost any of their opening 15 Premier League games; dropping points in only one. The Citizens are currently on a 13-match winning streak ahead of their trip to Old Trafford this Sunday, and should they win away at their rivals they will create Premier League history by being the first team to win 14 games in a row.
With City in scintillating form in the Premier League, it is no surprise that the Premiership odds are in favour of a City win. Pep Guardiola’s side have so far averaged just over three goals per game and will be looking to continue this rich vein of form as they travel to the Theatre of Dreams to take on their arch-rivals.
Both Manchester clubs have seen their squads filled with expensive overseas players, as both try to spend their vast transfer budgets in a bid to have the bragging rights in the derby, and to ultimately win the league. This season, when the two teams face each other, they will create history by having the most expensive teams combined in a football match.
Manchester United were set to have the most expensive player on the pitch in French midfielder Paul Pogba, who they paid a then word record fee of £89 million in 2016. However, after being sent off against Arsenal this past weekend, he will miss the derby. Pogba’s transfer saw him re-join United just four years after leaving them for around £1.5 million to join Serie A giants Juventus. Since his return to United he had become a valuable asset to the club before suffering an injury earlier in the campaign. Afterwards, United’s form dropped. He recently returned from injury and was helping the Red Devils get their title challenge back on track, but his absence through suspension versus the league leaders will be a blow to the Red Devils’ chances.
While United’s most expensive player has proven his worth, their second most expensive signing, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has recently suffered a slump in his own form. Having joined from Everton for an initial £75 million this past summer, Lukaku started well by scoring seven goals in his first seven Premier League games. However, after his 7th Premier League goal for United, against Crystal Palace, on 30th September, he has struggled for goal scoring form. The striker then went seven games without scoring in all competitions before finally ending that run against Newcastle on the 18th November. So far this season he has managed to score 11 goals, with eight of those coming in the league.
United’s cross city rivals are scoring for fun, thanks to players like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane. These four attackers have scored 32 of Manchester City’s 46 Premier League goals this season. Leroy Sane hasn’t just scored for City, he has also helped create goals; with six assists on top of his six goals. Between Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Kyle Walker, they have assisted in 26 of City’s 46 league goals.
The Citizens and the Red Devils have the best two defences in the league, with United having conceded just one goal fewer. The red side of Manchester have conceded a mere nine goals, compared to Manchester City’s 10 goals. This despite the transfer fees of their defenders being a world apart. Manchester City have signed John Stones, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy each costing over £40 million, while United are yet to have spend so much on a single defender.
David de Gea has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world since joining United from Atletico Madrid for £19 million back in 2011 and has been consistently linked with a move to Real Madrid for what would almost certainly be a world record fee. City’s goalkeeper, Ederson, is the current holder of the record fee for a goalkeeper having been bought for £35 million, eclipsing the previous record holder, Gianluigi Buffon, who joined Juventus from Parma for £32 million back in 2001.
In the Red Devils’ match against Arsenal their starting XI was worth approximately £351.5 million, with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku alone making up close to half of that figure. The Citizens on the other hand took on struggling a West Ham team with a first XI that was worth around £380.5 million. United were the only team out of the two to play an academy player as Jesse Lingard lined up for United and managed to score two of their three goal against Arsenal.
Manchester City’s transfer business has paid off for them, as they have managed to defeat their city rivals five times in the last 10 league meetings between the two, with two draws and three United wins being the other results.
With the Premier League title race currently in City’s hands, United will be hoping to use home advantage to reduce the gap between the two. Those who said Manchester City in their pre-season predictions for the Premier League champions should be feeling confident right now. Though the competition is a marathon not a sprint and while City have taken an early eight point lead, they will need to remain focussed in order to prevent United from winning their 21st top flight title.