The timing of the 176th derby could not be better as Manchester City have a priceless chance to claim a fifth league title against their fiercest rivals at home.
If City pull this off then their players will become legends and those in the Manchester United side will be constantly reminded of their unwanted part in Mancunian history. It should be some match at the Etihad Stadium.
Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League
Venue Etihad Stadium
Last season Manchester City 0 Manchester United 0
Referee Martin Atkinson
This season G24 Y82 R5 3.62 cards/game
Odds H Evens A 3-1 D 14-5
Subs from Bravo, Touré, Adarabioyo, Díaz, Danilo, Foden, Zinchenko, B Silva, Delph, D Silva, Stones, Agüero, Nmecha, Dele-Bashiru
Doubtful Agüero (match fitness)
Injured Mendy (knee, May)
Discipline Y46 R2
Leading scorer Agüero 21
Subs from J Pereira, Lindelöf, Shaw, Darmian, Carrick, McTominay, Mata, Fellaini, Rojo, Herrera, Martial, Borthwick-Jackson, Gomes, O’Connor, Dunne
Doubtful Blind (match fitness), Jones (match fitness)
Injured Romero (leg, unknown)
Discipline Y56 R1
Leading scorer Lukaku 15
Victory would see Manchester City clinch the title but boss Pep Guardiola may be tempted to rest players ahead of Tuesday’s game against Liverpool.
City will monitor Sergio Aguero’s knee injury, and even if he is fit they may prefer to save him for the Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Manchester United’s only absentee is injured goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Fit-again defenders Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have trained all week and are in contention.
Daley Blind returned to full training on Friday following an ankle injury but is unlikely to be involved.
Nemanja Matic was the sole defensive midfielder to start last weekend’s win against Swansea, and manager Jose Mourinho must decide whether to field a similarly attacking line-up at the Etihad Stadium.
Ander Herrera or Scott McTominay could be recalled if Mourinho opts for a more pragmatic approach against the runaway league leaders.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Guy Mowbray: “It could be a famous day for City, but their defeat at Anfield this week has flattened the build-up a little for me.
“How does Pep Guardiola play it now? Still set on a ‘weakened team’ before next week’s second leg against Liverpool, or go all out to give the fans what they really desire by getting the job done in this of all games?
“I wonder if it has changed Jose Mourinho’s usual mindset too? Liverpool have now twice beaten City with performances based on pressing, pace and attacking flair. Surely for this one he has to “let the horses run free”?
“For all the questions, there’s one certainty. City will be champions.”
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “We have three massive games, United, Liverpool and Tottenham. We have just a few days between each game.
“We have to see the condition of the players. We’ll pick a team to win the game against United… we have one eye on Tuesday though.
“I’d rather be facing United with a better result than we had [in midweek]. We must adapt, though. The result against United will help emotionally to prepare for the game on Tuesday.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on potentially delaying Manchester City’s title celebrations: “My motivation is to finish second. Mathematically [the] top four [is] not done. That is first objective. After that I don’t hide.
“In practical terms second, third, fourth is the same because we don’t win the title but we qualify for the Champions League group phase. But I prefer to finish second.”
I don’t see this game going to plan for Pep Guardiola. I am expecting United to be very awkward, and they are capable of nicking a goal as well as being rigid and hard to break down at the back.
Lawro’s full predictions v comedian Russell Howard
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United have lost eight of the last 13 league Manchester derbies, as many as in the previous 49 encounters.
However, the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last two league visits to the Etihad (W1, D1), keeping a clean sheet in both games.
Jose Mourinho has beaten Pep Guardiola just once in seven league meetings (D2, L4). His Real Madrid side were 2-1 winners at Guardiola’s Barcelona in April 2012.
Guardiola has won nine of 20 games against Mourinho-managed sides (D7, L4) in all competitions.
Victory would see Pep Guardiola’s side clinch the title with more games to spare than any other side in English top-flight history.
It would be the earliest in the calendar year a team has become top-flight champions since the same day in 1956, when Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United beat nearest challengers Blackpool 2-1 to clinch the title.
City are chasing a fifth top-flight title, and their third in seven seasons.
They could win 28 top-flight games in a single season for only the second time in their history – the previous occasion was the famous 3-2 victory against QPR on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign.
City are unbeaten in their last 27 home league games (W22, D5), winning the last 14 in a row.
Only twice before have teams recorded longer winning home runs in the Premier League – City themselves registered 20 victories in a row between March 2011 and March 2012 while Manchester United claimed 19 straight wins from October 2010 to October 2011.
Pep Guardiola’s side could keep consecutive Premier League clean sheets at home for the first time since September (in 5-0 wins against both Liverpool and Crystal Palace).
Sergio Aguero, who has 199 goals for City, has scored six goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Manchester United.
United have won their last four league games, their best run since a six-game streak from December 2016 to January 2017.
The Red Devils have only won one of their last 10 away league games against fellow ‘big six’ sides (D3, L6), with that win coming at Arsenal in December. They have failed to score on eight occasions duing this run.
Romelu Lukaku has scored in each of his last three games for Manchester United in all competitions.
Lukaku has netted five goals in 33 Premier League away games against the ‘big six’, with two of those goals scored at Etihad Stadium (both for Everton).