Phil Foden surpasses Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne as Man City’s new MVP with derby heroics

Phil Foden celebrates scoring for Manchester City - Foden's surpasses Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne as Man City's new MVP with derby heroics
Pep Guardiola hailed Phil Foden (left) as the 'best player' in the Premier League - PA/Mike Egerton

There is so much talk about just who is Manchester City’s most important player – is it Erling Haaland, Rodri or Kevin De Bruyne? Right now it is actually one Philip Walter Foden, the local lad, the academy product, the homegrown jewel at the heart of this glittering, global palace who grew up seven miles down the road in Stockport.

Just as it looked like another local hero, United’s Marcus Rashford, would grab the headlines, and for the right reasons after his stunning early goal from 30 yards, it was Foden who turned around this Manchester derby. In truth anything else would have been a footballing travesty.

With England manager Gareth Southgate in the stands, and a squad announced next week, there is no doubt that Foden must be central to his country’s plans in the forthcoming European Championships.

Two outstanding goals from Foden took his tally for City to 18 for the season – already the 23-year-old’s best-ever return – and it appears that a turning point was reached when he came on to such dazzling effect in last June’s Champions League Final in Istanbul.

No longer are we talking about Foden’s potential, about whether Pep Guardiola was wildly complimentary when he declared he was the best young talent he had ever seen. Now we are seeing that being so thrillingly fulfilled with Foden involved in 28 goals in 40 games and on his longest-run of consecutive league appearances (16).

Guardiola’s post-match verdict? “World-class,” he said. No-one would argue with that and at the end of a week in which Liverpool’s youngsters have shone, and the focus has been on academies and developing players, here is the best of the lot at present.

What Foden means to City has been confirmed and, so, his contribution in winning this derby will live long in the memory. It was the assuredness that he showed, as much as the quality of the strikes, that was so astonishing. United simply could not cope with him.

They will argue, with manager Erik ten Hag booked for his protestations, that a free-kick should have been awarded to Rashford before Foden’s first brilliant goal drew City level. But their case looked weak  as was Rashford under Kyle Walker’s challenge.

Marcus Rashford (L) Kyle Walker (R) - Phil Foden's surpasses Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne as Man City's new MVP with derby heroics
Erik ten Hag argued his side should have been awarded a free-kick - Shutterstock/Ash Allen

Ten Hag threw down a water bottle as he argued and, by the end, United threw in the towel. They appeared shocked to be in the lead, after Rashford’s first-time shot from 30 yards, that deliciously kissed the cross-bar on its way in, but proceeded to act like a League One side holding on in a cup tie.

The gulf was that great. City are firmly on their perch. They can overwhelm any opponent but United’s limitations made this a worrying mis-match where the difference between these two sides was as vast as it ever has been. A glance at the statistics? 74 per cent possession and 27 shots to three exposed that even further. It was bordering on embarrassing.

The result closes Liverpool’s advantage at the top to one point and wonderfully sets up next Sunday’s meeting at Anfield. For United they can forget any lingering hopes they had of a top-four finish – they are 11 points behind Aston Villa and have lost 11 league games this campaign with a minus two goal difference - and while they might point to the absence of the injured Rasmus Hojlund, Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Lisandro Martinez that is a thin excuse.

After all it is hard to imagine Jurgen Klopp or Ange Postecoglou setting up a team in the way Ten Hag did and without a positive result it looks like an exercise in damage limitation.

What is so exciting about Foden is the buzz he causes when he is on the ball. His first-touch is exquisite, his balance remarkable, as is his ability to go either way. And he can finish. In truth he should have had a hat-trick as he failed to take the easiest of the chances he had, when sent clear in the first-half only for Andre Onana to block.

But let’s not be churlish. City were reeling after Haaland was guilty of a glaring miss, as he volleyed over from a couple of yards out from Foden’s cushioned header across goal, and it appeared to affect them as much as Rashford’s strike.

Then Foden took over. It was already at odds that he was up against Victor Lindelof, a makeshift left-back who appeared in a panic every time Foden squared up to him, and City rightly exploited that mercilessly. The message? Give the ball to Phil.

And so City did just that. They drew level when he cut in from the right, with Lindelof lumbering, and struck a left-foot shot as true as Rashford’s which arrowed powerfully into the net. Then they went ahead when, from the other flank, Foden exchanged passes with substitute Julian Alvarez and guided the ball beyond Onana’s grasp.

For Haaland there was some late relief in injury-time with a woeful mistake by United substitute Sofyan Amrabat allowing Rodri to slip him in. This time he made no mistake and it was a goal that gave the score-line a more realistic appearance and captured the difference between these two teams.

Phil Foden celebrates with Erling Haaland after the Norwegian makes it 3-1
Foden celebrates with Erling Haaland after the Norwegian made it 3-1 - PA/Mike Egerton

It also confirmed another unwanted statistic for United: this was the first time in 144 league games that they have led at half-time and ended up losing.

Tellingly Guardiola substituted Foden, who was hobbling a little, allowing him the standing ovation he undoubtedly deserved. But before that he had scampered back, deep into his own half, to regain the ball one last time even though the game was over. “He’s a winning player,” Guardiola said and he is the main man – the MVP, the Most Valuable Phil - in this awesome winning machine.

Ten Hag insists United still in Champions League hunt

Erik ten Hag admitted Manchester United had little margin for error if they are to qualify for next season’s Champions League after an 11th league defeat left them 11 points adrift of the top four.

As well as trailing Aston Villa, United are six points behind fifth-placed Tottenham, who also have a game in hand.

England could be granted an additional Champions League spot this term depending on how results unfold in Europe in the coming months and Ten Hag conceded that would be helpful after watching his side lose more ground.

“So we catched up from January [and faced] the same questions but it can be a quick turnaround,” the United manager said. “We have to go into another final and we have to try and get closer to them. It can be an advantage that fifth spot can also be a Champions League spot, so we have to go for it and we have to win our games.”

Marcus Rashford and Jonny Evans were forced off with injury problems in the second half but Ten Hag hopes to have them available against Everton on Saturday and does not believe his squad is too stretched with injuries.

Marcus Rashford goes down injured
Rashford had to go off with an injury - Action Images/Lee Smith

“We are working on players returning and I think players will return in the coming weeks, especially after the international break,” he said. “Hopefully Jonny Evans and Marcus Rashford is not too bad and that they recover and that we can use them in the next game against Everton.”

Ten Hag denied that the defeat – with United mustering a solitary shot on target – was further evidence of the chasm between the clubs.

“No, I don’t think so, absolutely not,” he said. “You can see we have many problems in injuries and still we had an opportunity. Really small margins, we could have scored the second goal in a debatable moment.

“It’s not that big [a gap] and when we have everyone on board we can be competitive. I think also we showed in the Cup final against them when it was really close but City is, in this moment, the best team in the world. Don’t forget this.”

The United manager also defended his defensive approach against City. “For a long time in the game we were very proactive in defending and defending our box, keeping them away from opportunities and then go in the counter-attacks where we had our moments,” he said.

“You know City is a good team and very consistent in the way they play, they will create chances. We had our moments and could have scored a second goal. You have to see how this game will go to an end.”

Ten Hag was booked after reacting angrily as Rashford went down when through under minimal contact from Kyle Walker. “I will not say it was a tackle from Kyle Walker,” he said. “They both run and Rashy confirmed to me there was contact and I have seen it back, it was very soft. But when you are in a full-speed run and you get a little touch and then you are out of control. That’s what I think happened.”

Man City vs Man Utd: As it happened

06:30 PM GMT

Thanks for following with us

Man City went behind, but it never seemed in doubt. Ominous for both United, and City’s rivals. Cheers.

06:16 PM GMT

Pep Guardiola to Sky

“We were losing, but we were not struggling. I know we are judged for results. First half performance was better than the second. We had many chances, we defended well, Onana is a top keeper.

“We were so anxious in the first half with the chances. I said at half time if we score one we will score more.

“Phil helped us to unlock the game. He is winning games, he has become a world class player. Unbelievable today. He loves to play football. Some people like to play football but they have distractions. He lives to play football. He is like a 8, 9, 10 year old. I don’t think he reads many books, I don’t know if he goes to the cinema. He is going to be a legendary player. He is the player of the season. No disrespect to anyone else but he is winning the games.”

“You score goals, you miss goals. That does not matter. It is how you react that defines you.”

(Maybe most worrying for United, Pep now does a generous assessment of how good they are and how they should be “respected” because of their injuries.)

06:11 PM GMT

Ten Hag to Sky

“Players gave everything. Two players (Evans and Rashford) were not 100%. Performance was very good.

“Players fought, there was togetherness. On another day, we could have won. We got beaten on the counter attack. Rashford and Garnacho had opportunities to make it two. Small margins.

“Credit to City but the way we defended was brilliant.

“There was contact (‘foul’ on Rashford by Walker). A little touch but there was contact and when you are sprinting you will go down.

“From this year on we are really progressing. There are still many games to play. Everyone can beat everyone. Number five could also be a position for Champions League.”

06:06 PM GMT

Roy Keane. Obviously.

05:52 PM GMT

Phil Foden on Sky Sports

“I want to turn up in the games and I will keep working hard and making a difference. I understand what it means for the fans. A derby win is special.”

“The manager knows best, I listen to him. He told me to switch (with Bernardo) onto the left and it worked.”

05:51 PM GMT

Kyle Walker on Sky Sports

“Phil has been nothing short of first class. That is the standard we set for him and the standard he has to keep to.”

“We call Phil ‘the sniper’ because he likes to shoot. When he comes in off that side and shoots...

“We lean on him and he is winning games. He practices, he puts in the work. You create your own luck.”

“I said at half time it was not a bad performance. Sometimes you have to take your hat off, like to Marcus. But we didn’t get too down. We keep going to the end.”

05:50 PM GMT


for a Manchester derby, it feels like there’s not a massive amount more to say? United landed a lucky punch in the first half with Rashford’s screamer but in all honesty it never really felt like City would fail to win. They ran United legless and if it had gone on for another ten minutes, it would have been five or six. The gap is just enormous.

05:48 PM GMT

More reactions: Antony, look away now

Roy Keane: “City toyed with them.”

Micah Richards: “In the end, the quality just shone through.”

05:41 PM GMT


05:34 PM GMT

Full time: Man City 3 Man Utd 1

Marcus Rashford scored a peach, against the run of play, and Erling Haaland then missed a sitter. But the strong suspicion was that normal service would be resumed soon enough, and thus it proved. Phil Foden was the star turn, with two smashing goals, but it was the collective dynamism that crushed United. Haaland added a third late to give the scoreline a more representative flavour. The gap between the sides, both on the day and in general, was impossible to deny.

05:26 PM GMT

90+7 mins: Man City 3 Man Utd 1

Foden getting subbed off, giving him time to enjoy the applause and the imminent man of the match award. Bobb comes on.

05:23 PM GMT

90+3 mins: Man City 3 Man Utd 1

Gary Neville: “I think United have played quite well, the tactical set up has worked but they have just been worn down.”

05:20 PM GMT

GOAL! Man City 3 Man Utd 1 (Haaland 90+1)

Erling Haaland gilds the lily, and his joyful celebration suggests that he is glad to be able to have something other than that horror miss to think about after the whistle.

Very poor from Arambat as he loses it 30 yards from his own goal. Rodri feeds Haaland, who punishes United with a composed finish into the corner. The scoreline is now more representative of the City side’s dominance on the day.

05:18 PM GMT

88 mins: Man City 2 Man Utd 1

Foden tearing around the pitch, he’s back there helping out the defence now. The crowd show their appreciation.

05:17 PM GMT

87 mins: Man City 2 Man Utd 1

United are instead defending a flurry of corners.

05:16 PM GMT

85 mins: Man City 2 Man Utd 1

Are United pouring forward, pressing for an equaliser? No, they are not.

05:11 PM GMT

80 mins: Man City 2 Man Utd 1

Mainoo and Garnacho given the hook. Arambat and Forson on. Not what you’d call a deep bench for MUFC.

05:10 PM GMT

GOAL! Man City 2 Man Utd 1 (Foden 79)

A lovely one-two with Alvarez, Foden surges forward, Casemiro absolutely down there. Phil Foden places it neatly and that’s 2-1.

Mike McGrath: “Game shot! Phil Foden’s shotgun celebration is pulled out again with his second goal. He’s found that pocket of space again, this time on the inside left channel. This is the type of match winning performance that should see him start for England at the Euros in the summer.”

05:08 PM GMT

78 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Ederson with an accomplished sliding tackle that gets plenty of Garnacho in the follow through. Easy one for VAR, IMHO: no foul, and thus it proves.

That’s literally the first time I have noticed Garnacho in the match, I thought he must have come on as a sub. Nope. On from the start.

05:05 PM GMT

74 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Sub. Rashford’s contributions of note were essentially limited to that goal, but what a goal it was. Antony is his replacement.

Marcus applauds the away fans as he leaves. “Jeers for Rashford as he’s taken off for the Brazilian. You would expect that,” says Mike McGrath.

04:59 PM GMT

70 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Mike McGrath: “No jacket required for Pep Guardiola. He’s in his sweater on the sidelines, arms waving in frustration. Onana is taking plenty of time in the ball and also received treatment for a knock. United definitely looking to counter rather than going toe to toe.”

04:59 PM GMT

69 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

De Bruyne hits the freekick into the wall.

Evans is coming off. Kambwalaa replaces him.

04:58 PM GMT

68 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Haaland surges forward, beats a couple. Varane clearly vows he’s stopping EH by fair means of foul. He selects the latter. bodychecks him, and accepts they yellow without murmur.

04:55 PM GMT

63 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Onana has gone down, saying that he has got cramp. Plenty of a City persuasion reckon that he’s swinging the lead to eat up a few minutes.

Oliver Brown writes: “Andre Onana has been incensing Manchester City fans all game with his repeated time-wasting. Now he is holding up play by claiming he has cramp, they are on the verge of apoplexy. It might be the one psychological trick United have left in their armoury here.”

04:54 PM GMT

60 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

City dominating.

04:52 PM GMT

57 mins: Man City 1 Man Utd 1

Hi I’m Julian and this is my friend... Jeremy.  Sub: Doku off, Alvarez on.

04:46 PM GMT

GOAL! Man City 1 Man Utd 1 (Foden 55)

Foden picks it up in the inside right channel. Lindelof is not tight enough to him. Phil drops his shoulder and shapes inside. He crushes it with his left foot into the top far corner. Oooooh ya.

United want a foul in the build up. Marcus Rashford had gone down under minimal contact and United wanted a VAR get out of jail free card. Nothing doing. Ten Hag is booked for protesting.

Mike McGrath writes: “Ten Hag booked for complaining but there looked nothing wrong with Foden’s equaliser. Inside, onto his left foot and then arrowed into the top corner. He has looked City’s biggest goal threat and rewarded for taking on the chance when he could have passed.”

04:44 PM GMT

53 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

City are only just shading towards odds against to win this. Some bookies still offering but even money.

04:41 PM GMT

Lineker on Haaland

Was it the worst miss YOU have ever seen at this level? Let us know in the comments below.

04:39 PM GMT

50 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

City back at it. They have an overlap down the left, Doku crosses and it’s flapped away rather by Onana. He’s had a good game so far, the United keeper. A goalie about whom I am personally not yet convinced.

04:35 PM GMT

46 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

The second half begins, painfully so for John Stones, who goes up for a header with Scott McTominay, and lands heavily.

Here is Oliver Brown

“Pep Guardiola made the point in his programme opponents of how much his players needed a fervent atmosphere here. It is a moot point as to whether the call has been heeded. For a derby, City supporters seem pensive, jittery, as if not computing the reality of trailing to a United team this limited on paper. The shock of Erling Haaland’s miss has created an air of foreboding.”

04:34 PM GMT

Here’s Mike McGrath

“Erik Ten Hag hinted at trying something different when he spoke to the press on Thursday and his system has seen Bruno Fernandes furthest forward most of the first half. This worked for the goal and could have seen United through a few more times if Andre Onana was more decisive with the ball in his hands.”

“City will not be panicking in terms of chances created. Obviously the biggest fell to Erling Haaland and that could be the miss of the season. Everything is going through John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne and they are creating room in dangerous areas. Jeremy Doku’s final ball could be better.”

04:28 PM GMT

Jason Burt reports

There is a general air of disbelief around the Etihad Stadium at half-time. Not just because Manchester United lead through Marcus Rashford’s brilliant strike but even more so because of Erling Haaland’s shocking miss just before the break. All strikers miss chances but Haaland got it all wrong and to such an extent that his team-mate Rodri bent down and punched the turf in frustration. The general view? Haaland had to head the ball. It is the kind of miss that suggests it might be United’s day... but City are more than capable of turning this around.

04:22 PM GMT

*snooker voice* that’s a bad miss

04:21 PM GMT

Half time: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Hard to know what to make of that one, really! City well on top: they have made 375 passes, had 11 corners, and had 18 shots. United just 136 passes, 2 corners and 2 shots. But one of those shots was a Marcus Rashford screamer. Erling Haaland missed an open goal from about two yards. Make of it what you will.

04:19 PM GMT

45 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

De Bruyne gets to the byline and crosses low. Varane is perfectly positioned to cut that out at the expense of a corner.

Unite repel that corner but are soon facing another, when Walker’s drilled shot is deflected behind. Onana gather that one.

04:16 PM GMT

44 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

A svensational miss! City play it in from the left, Phil Foden with the perfectly cushioned header back across. Haaland! From three yards! Surely! Oh my gosh - no! He’s somehow managed to miss an open goal from about eight feet. A remarkable miss from there for any pro, but for Erling....

04:14 PM GMT

43 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Silva, Haaland, Foden all making a nuisance of themselves in the United box. Foden crashes a fierce drive right into the head of Mainoo. Poleaxed! But he gets up.

04:13 PM GMT

40 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

A long, slow build up but pressure is released when de Bruyne shoots wildly over.

177 passes to 22.

Gary Neville: “United like a boxer on the ropes, guard up, not throwing punches.”

04:12 PM GMT

39 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Feels like screw is turning, slowly and not especially excitingly to watch for the neutral, but City have got United pinned right back. Probing, probing.

04:11 PM GMT

38 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Onana slowing the game down. Home fans giving him a rub down for slow goal kicks.

04:10 PM GMT

37 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

14-2 on shots in City’s favour...

04:04 PM GMT

34 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

De Bruyne hits the target, a smart stop from Onana - and unlucky for him that it rebounds straight to Rodri. Rodri shoots! Wide.

04:03 PM GMT

32 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Ball takes a looping deflection off Casemiro, and Haaland has a very difficult header. He cannot direct it.

04:02 PM GMT

30 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

If anyone can come back, it’s City.

03:57 PM GMT

26 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

First foul of the game! On 26 minutes. Blood and thunder, it ain’t.

03:57 PM GMT

Wrong end wrong ‘un

03:56 PM GMT

24 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Patient from City. Eventually laid back to Rodri, whose shot deflects off Varane for a corner. A corner that United defend well.

03:54 PM GMT

22 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

United create another good chance. Diagonal ball opens City up, McTominay misses his header in the box, and then Rashford air-kicks as he tries to scoop it back across. Drink it in, etc.

03:50 PM GMT

18 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

De Bruyne given an alarming amount of space in between the lines, slips it through to Foden on the right. Should have buried the one on one but Onana saves the day. Let-off.

03:49 PM GMT

17 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Rashford has another good opportunity - or rather, an opportunity, because he made that goal out of nothing - when he is sent through again! City again undone by a big honking hoof down the middle. But Marcus fails to bring it under control. He was, should have been, in there.

03:45 PM GMT

15 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Foden gets through, United’s back four all squashed in together, not something you’d see in the coaching manual. Foden hits the target, but also hits it straight at Onana.

03:44 PM GMT

13 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

Gary wondering “if United have poked the bear.”

City have been poor starters so far this term, they’ve conceded first nine times. But they have a very good record coming from behind.

City have a corner, and a drive forward by de Bruyne.

03:41 PM GMT

10 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 1

“We said they have to take the few chances against City, and I think United have only been in City’s half twice!” says Gary Neville on Sky Sports.

03:38 PM GMT

GOAL! Man City 0 Man Utd 1 (Rashford 8)

Marcus Rashford has scored a screamer, totally against the run of play. United hit the ball forward, City are trying to play offside but Ake is not on the same page as his colleagues. Fernandes with some superb hold up play, proper old skool back to goal centre forward work, he lays it off to the onrushing Rashford, who smashes a magnificent strike into the roof of the net from 25 yards. What a goal!

03:37 PM GMT

5 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 0

United have barely had a kick, 90% of the ball has been City’s. United attempt a foray forward now.

03:34 PM GMT

3 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 0

All City. Ball hit into the United area. John Stones is down - play is continuing but VAR is checking. No pen. Casemiro got a little touch, Stones tripped over his own feet.

03:32 PM GMT

2 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 0

Bruno Fernandes clears the follow-up corner.

03:32 PM GMT

1 mins: Man City 0 Man Utd 0

Manchester City win an early corner. An intricate passing move worked short, Foden shoots and it is deflected over. Came off Dalot.

03:30 PM GMT

Manchester City

will kick off. Pleasant sunny afternoon there.

03:24 PM GMT

Radio days

03:19 PM GMT


03:18 PM GMT

Ten Hag

“We have fought to be in this game. We have some physical complaints.”

“I don’t think it is about getting an extra body in midfield. Sometimes you drop one into midfield to create confusion. We know they have a high back line and we have a lot of pace. There is a lot of space in their back line.

“Jonny Evans has struggled lately but he fought to get into this game. This is the strongest back four we have available.”

03:15 PM GMT

Pep speaks to Sky

“To play the crucial moments you have to play all the games.

“Erik knows his plan better than me, and we try to figure it out.

“We just want to play a football game.”

03:07 PM GMT

Last Bastian of hope

Enjoyably egocentric message of support from the former German international

02:58 PM GMT

Manchester United odds

United were about 8/1 before that team news came out but they’ve been pushed out to 9/1 or more, with at least one bookmaker I can see offering them at 11/1 now. Make of that what you will.

If you are of a betting persuasion, how about an offer?

Will the gold and green scarves be out in force after today’s tie with the noisy neighbours who have dominated the domestic landscape in recent years? Back your predictions for the game on these best betting sites.

02:49 PM GMT

Reds in the house

02:46 PM GMT

Pep’s five changes

Pep Guardiola makes five changes team from the side that beat Luton in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

Jack Grealish, Ederson, Ruben Dias, Jeremy Doku, Rodri and Phil Foden come in. Josko Gvardiol is on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.

02:44 PM GMT

J Evans, time traveller

Today is the first time that Jonny Evans has started a Manchester derby away since DECEMBER 2012.

Man United won 3-2 that day thanks to a goal from Brian Kidd Robin van Persie.

02:40 PM GMT

City photographer

Surely using some sort of blue filter here? No way can Manchester look this azure!

02:33 PM GMT

Reactions to the team news

02:32 PM GMT

Team news


Man City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Foden, De Bruyne, Doku, Haaland. Subs: Kovacic, Ortega, Alvarez, Gomez, Gvardiol, Akanji, Matheus Luiz, Bobb, Lewis.

Man Utd: Onana, Dalot, Varane, Evans, Lindelof, Mainoo, Casemiro, McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho, Rashford. Subs: Bayindir, Amrabat, Eriksen, Diallo, Antony, Kambwala, Forson, Collyer, Ogunneye.

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

02:25 PM GMT

Blue sky thinking

01:39 PM GMT

Manchester derby preview

Good afternoon and welcome to our live blog of the Manchester derby, contested as you might imagine by Manchester City and Manchester United. The match will kick off at the somewhat unusual time of 3.30pm this Sunday afternoon, and we will have all the build-up and coverage ahead of team news at about half two, and then kick off an hour later. The bookies have United at as much as 9/1 in some places to win: how are the mighty fallen. Will City’s empire last forever, or will they too fall from grace as their rivals once did?

Erik ten Hag has some injury woes to content with: Harry Maguire has joined Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the sidelines. He says it is “a puzzle” as to who he can field.

Ten Hag said: “We have to lay the puzzle because we are still missing full-backs. We are still missing centre-halves. So we have to be creative but I think we can. On Wednesday, we showed we can, if we have the right plan.

“But, more important than that, if we have that passion, and that ambition, and desire and determination to win the game, then we are able to do it.”

He talks a lot about passion and drive, does ten Hag: is that where United’s shortcomings lie? They’ve let in ten in their last two visits to the Noisy Neighbours, but he is striking a confident note nonetheless.

“From January on, we are in very good form, on a very good run. We bounced back (at Forest) and we have to keep this process going. We’re looking forward, great games are coming up - big games and good challenges.

“So the team is really excited about that. I’m excited about going into this game, and also the coming games, but Sunday is very important.”

Certainly is: City are second on 59 points, four points behind Liverpool with this fixture representing the game in hand. Both will have played 27 by the end of tonight. United’s bid for the Champions League places, such as it is, sees them 11 points behind fourth-placed Villa...

United will be hoping that the form book goes out the window, as the saying goes, but we shall have to see.