Manchester United host Manchester City in a firecracker of a game on Saturday lunchtime – and Paul Merson has offered his prediction on which way he thinks the contest will go.
Erik ten Hag side’s go into the match in fantastic form. They have won all six of their games since returning to action after the World Cup, and are on a run of 11 wins from 12 games in all competitions either side of that break. That form has carried United back into the top four – and a win over their derby rivals can move them to within a point of Pep Guardiola’s side.
City, meanwhile, need the points to continue their Premier League title battle with Arsenal. Currently five points behind, this weekend looks critical with the Gunners travelling to face Tottenham on Sunday.
In addition, local bragging rights are also at stake. And many feel United have a genuine chance of upsetting City, after their timid Carabao Cup exit at Southampton exposed their flaws.
Offering his predictions, Merson delivered his verdict in his column on Sportskeeda.
And the pundit does not think there will be much between the sides, opting for an exciting 2-2 draw.
“This is a big game,” Merson said. “Manchester City have a tight schedule – they’ll have to train on Friday and play on Saturday.
“This is the first time that United are playing against City for a long time when they couldn’t be playing any better. Man United are playing with a lot of confidence.
“You’d usually expect City to wipe the floor with United. But now, I don’t see how Manchester United don’t score.
“If they start this game the way Chelsea did last week, they’ll have a chance. If they change their game up and sit back, City will break them open.”
Paul Merson discusses threat of Erling Haaland
Merson admits Erling Haaland will once again pose United a major danger after he scored a hat-trick in their October clash at the Etihad.
That said, the pundit reckons teams will soon catch on to City’s tactics with the Norwegian and work out a way to nulify him.
“Erling Haaland is an out-and-out striker – he didn’t touch the ball once in the first 20 minutes against Chelsea,” he continued.
“City’s players are told to get the ball in the box for him. If he doesn’t score, it starts to become a problem.
“Man City used to spread their goals across the team, and it was extraordinary. Teams will catch on, and they’ll start to stay tight with Haaland.”
After City, United then travel to face Arsenal next weekend. Roy Keane recently played United’s good run of form, saying they had only beaten sides you would expect them to beat. And Merson agrees, saying the next two games will prove the acid test for where United are at under Ten Hag.
“I think the next two [three, really, Merson, as United play in midweek!] games will tell you everything about Manchester United,” Merson added.
“If they get four points from their next two games, they’re in the title race.
“Two draws won’t be enough, however, and that just shows you how quickly things can change.
“United have a better shape about them now.
“[Bruno] Fernandes looks like a completely different player again, and Rashford has taken it on himself to be the man – he’s playing the best football of his career.
“Manchester United play good counter-attacking football and have the pace to really hurt City this weekend.”
Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire react to Weghorst signing
Saturday’s game comes too soon for Weghorst to feature in for United, after his signing was confirmed on Friday night.
The towering Dutch striker has signed on loan for the remainder of the season, with the 6ft 6in star vowing to his all to the club.
His arrival gives United’s attack a new focal point and another option to use either off the bench or to start games.
And his debut will likely arrive on Wednesday when they host Crystal Palace in a rearranged game down at Selhurst Park.
Reacting to his signing, club captain Harry Maguire quickly offered his thoughts.
‘Welcome mate’, the defender posted on Instagram along with the handshake emoji.
Fernandes also offered his thoughts on his Instagram story. The United stand-in captain, who will also likely wear the armband again on Saturday, posted: “Welcome Wout Weghorst.”
United’s football director John Murtough has been explaining what attracted them to Weghorst.
“Wout has a consistent goalscoring record across several European leagues, and his attributes will add a further dimension to our squad for the remainder of the season.
“We were also attracted by his strong personality and dedicated approach to football. That fits perfectly with the spirit that Erik is building within our squad. He has shown a huge desire to join Manchester United and be part of what we’re striving to achieve this season.”
READ MORE: Man Utd send same transfer message to five clubs after infrequent Ten Hag starter generates Prem interest
The article ‘Break them open’: Paul Merson reveals prediction for Man Utd v Man City as Bruno Fernandes welcomes Wout Weghorst appeared first on Teamtalk.com.