Thursday’s Manchester derby promises to be one of the most consequential in recent seasons given the tussle for a Champions League spot looks like it will go down to the wire. While it is not quite a shootout for fourth given Liverpool’s slip-up on Sunday, this match will go a long way to determining England’s Champions League representatives next season.
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Hosts Manchester City currently occupy fourth with 64 points, while Manchester United are fifth on 63 points. Both have played 32 games, two less than Liverpool in third place. Although United could qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, José Mourinho will want to ensure qualification through league position should they fail in Europe.
Mourinho’s men have the power of momentum behind them having won their last three league fixtures, a run which included an impressive 2-0 victory over leaders Chelsea. They are also unbeaten in 23 league fixtures, dating back to October last year.
Conversely, City boss Pep Guardiola is facing his first season as a manager without silverware after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, although they could be boosted by the potential return of Gabriel Jesus after a long spell on the sidelines.
What time does it start?
Manchester City vs Manchester United kicks off at 20:00
Where can I watch it?
The match will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 from 19:00. Highlights will be shown at 12am on Sky Sports 1.
It’s a big game for…
Sergio Agüero. The prolific Argentine was controversially dropped for new signing Gabriel Jesus, before being recalled after the 20-year-old Brazilian fractured his metatarsal in February.
With Jesus on the verge of a full recovery, Agüero is running out of opportunities to prove to Guardiola that he is still the man to lead the line for City.
Despite emerging victorious in their last encounter in the EFL Cup in October, Jose Mourinho has won only four of his 18 meetings with Pep Guardiola.
Vincent Kompany’s header gave City a 1-0 win over United to put them firmly in charge of the title race in the 2011/12 season. The win put City top of the league on goal difference, just three weeks after they trailed United by eight points. City’s captain has returned to the starting eleven in recent weeks and will be hoping to inspire his team to another famous derby win on Thursday.
Player to watch…
Marcus Rashford. The youngster was rested for Manchester United’s 2-0 win at Burnley on Sunday, presumably to keep him fresh for the derby on Thursday. The 19-year-old has impressed in recent weeks in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scoring against Chelsea in the league and clinching the winner against Anderlecht to send United into the semi-final of the Europa League.
Manchester United 1 Manchester City 0, EFL Cup October 2016
Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2, Premier League September 2016
Manchester City 0 Manchester United 1, Premier League March 2016
Manchester City: DDLWWL
Manchester United: DWDWWW
Manchester City to win: 87/100
Manchester United to win: 13/4