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The Manchester Derby Is The Fiercest In The World, And It's This Sunday

Separated by a three-mile stretch on the A57 road, a 15 minute drive southwest will take you from the Etihad Stadium to Old Trafford, the site of this Sunday’s Manchester derby between Manchester United and Manchester City.

A top of the table clash between United and City, rarely seen throughout the course of the Manchester derby’s illustrious history, has heightened the drama beyond its normal magnitude. This is a fixture that will go a long way towards deciding who will be crowned Premier League champion come May.

However, even with the eyes of the world fastened on the events in Trafford, the derby remains, first and foremost, a clash between two tribes within a shared city. For all the global power which these two clubs possess, talk of international brands, unlimited spending power and even recent history will go out the window on Sunday. To the victor will go the spoils of months of local supremacy. To the loser, derision and ridicule. 

Dating back to the first meeting in 1881, this is an encounter that has featured legends like Francis Lee, Bobby Charlton and Eric Cantona. In recent times, players like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero have factored heavily in deciding the fixture’s outcome. None more memorably than Rooney on February 12, 2011. 

This goal epitomizes the power of this fixture. The derby stage offers its performers an opportunity to produce a singular moment which will be forever cemented in history, an incorruptible legacy that will be passed down through generations. 

When United were thumped 6-1 by City in 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson described it as “the most embarrassing defeat of my management career”. More revealing still, the notorious hardman proceeded to spend the rest of his day grieving under the covers. 

In April, 2015, the tables were turned with a final scoreline of 4-2, in favor of United. City goalkeeper Joe Hart declared the defeat as “one of [his] worst days in a Manchester City shirt.” 

A growing competitiveness makes the 170th Manchester derby one to savor. In the all-time series, Manchester United boast 70 victories compared to 49 for Manchester City, along with 50 stalemates.

Dubbed by Ferguson as “a small club with a small mentality”, City are beginning to reverse the trend of United’s dominance in the derby. Funded by the wealth of the Abu Dhabi United Group, the financial divide between the two clubs has diminished.

Multimillion pound transfers concerning the two clubs have become the norm. While Manchester City purchased Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi this offseason, United countered with Anthony Martial, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay. It’s a fascinating tussle of colossal proportions. 

All of which leads us to this Sunday. While Louis van Gaal claims City are the favorites, a claim Manuel Pellegrini rejects, who exactly has the advantage for this latest edition of the Manchester derby?


Two of the most experienced managers in all of world football go toe to toe on Sunday, attempting to provide the tactical edge that will swing the match in their side's favor. While last campaign saw the home sides emerge victorious in both fixtures, there's not a lot of precedent to go by heading into this game.

Both Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini, so influential in the victory at Old Trafford, have taken a back seat to United's new arrivals. For City, the arrivals of Sterling and De Bruyne have injected both pace and creativity. The two sides respective victories over Everton and Bournemouth last weekend suggested a fruition of managerial ideas that wasn't apparent last year.  

Advantage: Even


An area in which both teams were supposedly going to struggle this year, City and United boast two of the staunchest defences in England. For United, this is mainly down to the fact that they were able to retain the services of David de Gea. Additionally, Matteo Darmian seems to have finally solved their prolonged issues at right full-back. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have remained healthy while forming a formidable, albeit agricultural, partnership. 

For City, Joe Heart remains as dependable as ever while Eliaquim Mangala has rediscovered the form that convinved The Citizens he was ready for life in the Premier League. Nicolas Otamendi figures to be a defensive mainstay for years to come. The main question for City is with regards to the health and form of returning defensive stalwart Pablo Zabaleta. 

Advantage: Manchester United

Midfield: Another extremely close contest, the midfield battle pits the likes of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Fernando against Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera. Michael Carrick could also be used to provide United with more derby know-how. However, the pace and title experience of City has to give them the advantage in this duel. When Toure is playing with a chip on his shoulder, he's usually at his best. 

Advantage: Manchester City

Attack: Even without injured duo David Silva and Sergio Aguero, City still have an embarrassment of attacking riches. Sterling, De Bruyne, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and an inspired Wilfried Bony represent a nightmare for opposing defences. They've scored 24 goals this campaign and will likely add to that toal this weekend.

For the Red Devils, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney are going to need to be at their very best to trouble City. Memphis Depay has seen his form slowly slip since his initial revelations, while it's unfair to expect Anthony Martial to make an immediate impact on such a massive stage. In fairness, Martial has shown an early propensity to do as much.    

Advantage: Manchester City 

Final prediction: Manchester City 2 - 1 Manchester United

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