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It’s derby day in Manchester this weekend as Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United host Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City with local bragging rights at stake (as well as three valuable points).
BIRTHDAY BOY ROONEY LOOKING TO CELEBRATE IN STYLE
24 hours before the big game, Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney will celebrate his 30th birthday. Recently crowned record all-time goalscorer of his country, the Liverpool born hitman will also become the most prolific striker in the Premier League for a player at 30 years of age, having scored 187 times in English footballs top-flight. He loves playing Manchester City too, having smashed in 11 goals against them in derby matches (the best sports betting sites quote him at a generous *3.20 to be an anytime scorer on Sunday). A comprehensive 3-0 away win at Everton last time out means that the Red Devils have won four of their last five league fixtures and van Gaal will be hoping that Wednesday’s trip to Russia to face CSKA Moscow, where his side earned a battling 1-1 draw, will not have taken too much out of his first choice players ahead of Sunday.
CITY AIMING FOR THEIR 50TH DERBY WIN
After crashing in 11 goals in their last two league games, Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side head to Old Trafford looking for their 50th win against the old enemy. Observers will point to the fact that their last two Premier League fixtures were at home to bottom club Newcastle United and Bournemouth respectively, but that will not deter the current table toppers from feeling confident they can return home across the city with all three points. In Belgian international midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, they have one of Europe’s hottest properties at the moment, and his last gasp winner against Sevilla at the Etihad on Wednesday, ensured his side stay in contention for the knock-out stages of the Champions League. He too is being nicely quoted on the betting exchanges at *3.40 to get his name on the scoresheet on Sunday.
It’s likely that van Gaal will return a few of his rested players to the starting XI on Sunday with England midfielder Michael Carrick, Spanish playmaker Juan Mata and Italian full-back Matteo Darmian all in contention for a place in the team. Ashley Young is out injured and so is young Irish defender Paddy McNair.
Pellegrini has lost Argentine striker Sergio Agüero for at least a month with a hamstring problem, and it looks as though Sunday’s derby has also come too early for the inspirational Spaniard David Silva to return to the team. Captain Vincent Kompany’s participation on Sunday is still a worry for the visitors however, he did come on in the closing minutes on Wednesday. Serbian defender Aleksandar Kolarov also came on as second-half substitute in midweek and will in all probability start Sunday’s contest.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Rojo, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Martial, Herrera, Mata; Rooney
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Hart; Kolarov, Kompany, Otamendi, Zabaleta; Fernandinho, Touré; De Bruyne, Sterling, Navas; Bony
HEAD TO HEAD
It’s Manchester City who are in the box seat on Sunday if recent form is analysed, the Citizens having won six of the last eight league meetings between the two (prior to this, Sunday’s visitors had only won six out of 42). Manchester United are unbeaten at Old Trafford this season and in the last 12 derby games there has not been a drawn game with United winning five, City seven.
Manchester United 2.50 Draw 3.40 Manchester City 2.70
*odds courtesy of Bet365
By: Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)