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Many believe that this weekend’s Manchester derby could prove to be a defining moment in the Premier League title race, despite the fact that we haven’t even had our Christmas dinner yet. If the Red Devils secure local bragging rights they will become the first side to beat the Citizens this season in domestic competition, however more importantly the hosts would narrow the gap between the sides to a ‘mere’ five points. On the other hand, a win for the Citizens would see them take an eleven point lead over their arch-rivals, so who will come out on top in this eagerly awaited affair?
Jose Mourinho’s men started their campaign in emphatic fashion, however they have endured a couple of slip-ups along the way. Nevertheless they look to have a squad which is more than capable of mounting a serious title challenge and the 3-1 win at Arsenal last weekend took their top-flight winning run to four matches, United keeper David De Gea putting in a heroic performance between the sticks at the Emirates Stadium. Is the Spaniard the best keeper on the planet? He certainly put forward a strong case in North London last weekend and the all-star City attacking line-up will certainly put him to the test on Sunday.
Manchester City have enjoyed a hugely impressive season so far with Pep Guardiola’s men enduring their very first defeat when they went down 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday evening. Given that nothing was at stake for City and Guardiola had rested several key players for this ‘dead rubber’ of a match, little should be read into that defeat and a full-strength Man City side will once again prove extremely hard to keep at bay on Sunday. In the Premier League the visitors have been close to flawless with just two points dropped in their fifteen outings and they have been perfect on their travels with seven wins from seven away games.
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At Old Trafford, Manchester United have been outstanding with wins in all of this season’s home games across all competitions. They have outscored all opposition to the tune of 20-1 at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ and the stark fact is that something will need to give this weekend. Will it be City’s perfect record on the road or will United slip-up in front of their home fans for the first time this season?
This is a hugely tough match to call. Nevertheless we’ll be siding with the Citizens to silence the Old Trafford hordes by heading home with all three points in the bag. Pep Guardiola’s men have been truly outstanding this term and the City boss has a hugely impressive group of attacking players at his disposal. United went all out for the win at the Emirates Stadium last weekend but we expect Mourinho to adopt a ‘park-the-bus’ approach in this hugely important match and such a negative approach will suit City well given their proven ability to grind out wins against teams which adopt this game-plan. Mourinho is only too aware that defeat on Sunday would effectively end his side’s chances of lifting the title and put City into a somewhat unassailable position. The Red Devils may well grab a goal on the break but we don’t believe that this will be enough for the hosts to manage anything from this match. As such, a Manchester City win and both teams to score looks a solid bet with the bookmakers going 3/1 on such an outcome.
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Get all the statistics on this weekend’s Manchester derby by reading our Full Match Guide