On 23rd October 2011, the Premier League witnessed the heralding of a new era when Manchester City signaled their entry into the traditional powerhouses’ club of England after demolishing their more accomplished neighbours 6-1. It was also the season where Manchester United lost the title to City on goal difference after that famous Aguero goal against Queen’s Park Rangers.
Cut to 2nd October 2022, Aguero’s heir apparent Erling Haaland demolished the red half of Manchester with a hattrick, becoming the first player to score 3 goals in 3 consecutive matches. The scoreline of 6-3 flattered United as City were dominant as the Red Devils struggled to get into the contest.
This has been the prevailing thread for the past 10 years. City were suddenly the more attractive option for major players or upcoming ones as United struggled to come to terms with their newfound runners-up status in Manchester. Since that fateful 2011-12 season, City have won the Premier League 6 times while United have won just once.
On Saturday, United and City will renew hostilities for the 189th time with United having all the momentum right now. In their last 18 competitive matches, Erik Ten Hag’s team have just lost once while City have been rather inconsistent this season. In one match, they blew away Chelsea by 4-0 in the FA Cup and 1-0 in the Premier League, and then lost to Southampton in the EFL Cup. Against the Saints, the reigning Premier League Champions failed to register a single shot on target in 90 minutes.
Should United beat City, they will not only gain revenge for that October hammering but will also come within a point of their 2nd place spot. But to do all that, they must stop the goalscoring machine that is Erling Haaland. That’s no walk in the park, but Chelsea, and more recently Southampton, have shown that the Norwegian goal machine does have a pause switch.
United, meanwhile, have a red-hot Marcus Rashford who has been on a tear since the World Cup, scoring in all six of United’s matches after rejoining the side. Anthony Martial, who scored twice the last time these two sides met, will be spearheading the attack. And with the looming shadow of the imminent arrival of Netherlands striker Wout Weghorst at Old Trafford, the French attacker will look to impress in this derby.
What does Pep Guardiola have in store for the Manchester derby? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/JQ6AA1A17n
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 11, 2023
Saturday’s derby will also have one huge difference from the last one. In the last match, United did not have the steely resolve of Casemiro in midfield from the start. The Brazilian has been a revelation since exchanging the regal whites of Real Madrid with the royal red of United. He is one of the main reasons that United have been top class since his arrival, with 9 consecutive home wins and 7 clean sheets. The 30-year-old is a midfield engine, harkening back to midfielders of yore, able to seamlessly slot into defensive as well as offensive roles. He is quite comfortable acting as a protective shield in front of the defence, while also having the wherewithal to cut through an opposition’s backline with a pinpoint pass.
To counter him, City will most likely turn to their treasure trove of attacking talents that include Phil Foden, the man who had also scored a hattrick against United in the October 2 clash, as well as Argentine World Cup winner Julian Alvarez, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish and the most important piece of the puzzle, a marauding Kevin De Bruyne.
After a long time, Manchester United actually look like they are on par with Manchester City in the upcoming derby and that is the belief that Ten Hag has restored in the Old Trafford faithful since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as coach 10 years ago.