Updated: Saturday, 28th March 2020 @ 8:10pm

Man City v Man United preview: All to play for as old rivals do battle

Man City v Man United preview: All to play for as old rivals do battle

| By Ed Diamond

The 179th Manchester derby this weekend could see the tale of two travesties.

If the Sky Blues are victorious then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the wheel could end with the air bags going off.

But if the Red Devils run riot after their ‘Spur-lended’ performance on Wednesday – where Marcus Rashford scored twice in the 2-1 victory – then could Man City be ruled out of the title race before Christmas?

Key players will be crucial for both teams and with Paul Pogba still unavailable, if Manchester United are to acquire any points this coming derby day then you’d think that Rashford has to play at his optimal standard.

Talk sport journalist Dom McGuinness said: “If Rashford plays like that (game against Spurs) then they have every chance against Man City.”

He’s scored nine goals this term, seven of which have been scored whilst playing on the left of the pitch, which could be a potential factor behind Anthony Martial’s struggles to find his way into the starting line-up this weekend…

For City, Riyad Mahrez’s upturn of form could be crucial and could act as an early Christmas present for Pep Guardiola in his attempt to close the gap on Liverpool. He’s scored two in his last three and adds a different dynamic to the team with his flair and ability to beat a man.

Kevin De Bruyne has also been prolific since the start of the season contributing to 13 goals in 14 appearances, in comparison to last season’s shortened campaign where he supplied two goals and two assists.

And while there are still 23 games to go, have City left themselves with too much to do?

The festive football period is imperative for every team. Guardiola’s side have a busy December, with seven matches remaining – including two Premier League games in 48 hours against Wolves and Sheffield United... the more the merrier?

At today's press conference, Solskjaer was asked if his current squad was better than the team that lost in April to Man City.

“The boys are up for it,” he replied, before adding a seemingly petty excuse that they had 24 hours less recovery than Burnley, who fell victim to the Man City storm during the mid-week fixture.

Simon Stone stated that the team had done well competing against the ‘big teams’ and followed with the question: “How can we build on that?”

The Manchester United manager replied: “The Premier League is hard and it’s a compliment to how hard it is. It’s fine margins apart from Leicester, City, Chelsea and Liverpool.”

Which is interesting considering that combined, they only have five more losses than the red side of Manchester which suggests that they don’t have the same issue of consistency as Solskjaer’s side.

But the Norwegian preferred to focus on the positives, stating they have to “turn doubt into belief” which would be best demonstrated with a win against City.

Defensively, Man City have missed key characters shown by the fact they’ve not kept a clean sheet in the league since October 26. But the red side of Manchester have also struggled away from home, their last win coming against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League on Oct 24.

City's 4-1 victory over Burnley was the 36th time they have won a Premier League game by three or more goals under Guardiola – the most of any team in the competition since the start of the 2016-17 season.

In conclusion if City win then a title defence is on but fans of the Red Devils will be over the ‘blue moon’ if they can secure a victory against their closest rivals, who are also struggling for recent form.