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Manchester Derby: City Battle United At Etihad

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The standout fixture of Premier League gameweek 12 comes at the Etihad Stadium when leaders and champions Manchester City host local rivals Manchester United.

Nine points already separate the two sides ahead of the derby, but both go into the match off the back of memorable European victories in midweek.

Guardiola’s side have delivered emphatic statements of intent both at home and abroad over the past seven days, scoring six goals in consecutive games for the first time in 31 years en route to routs over Southampton and Shakhtar Donetsk.

At home City are an even more daunting proposition, taking 25 points from a possible 27 and scoring 32 goals while conceding four since their defeat to United at the Etihad in April, when the Red Devils came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Most recent triumphs  for United’ is over Newcastle United and Bournemouth have certainly helped to lift the mood around the club, but Wednesday’s win in Turin was the type that could kickstart their season as they defied all odds to come out on top in one of the most difficult away games in football – a task which also awaits them this weekend.

The Red Devils have only kept one clean sheet in the league this season and have conceded 18 times in their 11 games – a tally it took them 25 matches to reach last term. Should they concede more than two goals on Sunday then it would be their worst start to a season defensively since 1966.

Mourinho will be taking charge of his 300th Premier League game on Sunday and much of his success over the previous 299 have relied on a solid defence, but thwarting a City attack in such devastating form with a backline he has regularly criticised could be one of his most difficult problems to solve yet.

United could have Romelu Lukaku back available after a two game absence, with the Belgian striker set to be monitored closely following his return to training.

Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba are both expected to overcome minor injury problems, while Antonio Valencia is also available despite not being included in the matchday squad against Juventus.

It will be a City midfield still without Kevin De Bruyne, although Ilkay Gundogan is available once again and competing for a place with David Silva and Bernardo Silva.

Indeed, Guardiola’s main problem at the moment is having too many players in such good form. Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick in midweek, but is still set to miss out to joint-Premier League top scorer Sergio Aguero up front.

Raheem Sterling is arguably the league’s form player at the moment, but he has failed to score in all 12 of his Premier League games against United.

Head To Head

United have been something of a bogey team for City despite the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs in recent years, with the blue half of Manchester winning just two of the last eight meetings across all competitions.

That run includes three consecutive visits to the Etihad without defeat for United, and following April’s memorable 3-2 triumph they could now win back-to-back league games at the stadium for only the second time.

Overall this will be the 177th Manchester derby, with City winning 51 of those compared to United’s 73.



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