It's a huge Manchester derby as both sides bid to rescue disappointing league campaigns.
If Louis van Gaal is going to rescue United’s season from one of abject mediocrity a win here would go a long way. City’s faltering form means there are just four points between the pair and along with Arsenal, West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool there is a pretty big scrap developing for third and fourth. Much like last season it looks like the final Champions League spots will go to the teams that shoot themselves in the foot the least, so which of these teams looks most likely to self harm here?
City haven’t won back-to-back league games since October and in failing to beat struggling Norwich last weekend they ensured that will remain the case until at least April. The defence has been the root cause of many of their problems but they’ve now failed to score in three of their last four games and have scored more than once just twice in their last 10. With Vincent Kompany going off injured in midweek and set to miss at least a month those defensive headaches could just return for City: they’ve conceded six goals in Kompany’s 12 starts this season but 1.47 goals per game in the 17 he’s missed with clean sheets falling from 75% to 24%. Furthermore, their record this season against the other teams towards the top of the table has been dreadful as they’ve won just one of 12 matches against the current top nine (W1-D3-L8).
United’s form can hardly be described as better of course, particularly on the road where they’ve won just one of their last eight in the league and were also totally outplayed by Liverpool in the Europa League 10 days ago. Without David de Gea, LvG would have been fired a long time ago as United have collected their lowest ever points total through 29 games of a Premier League season and, much like City, they have problems in both attack and defence.
The Red Devils have won at both Southampton and Liverpool this season while they were the better team at Stamford Bridge, so they are not without decent performances on the road, it’s just they’ve been few and far between. While City’s declining goals output has resulted in six of their last 11 matches being goalless at half-time, including four of six at home, that has been the case for United all season and 14 of their last 27 matches have been 0-0 at the break. Two of United’s three derbies since LvG took over have seen a stalemate at half-time and despite Kompany’s absence there looks every chance of another one here with the HT 0-0 available at a generous 2.88. We’d certainly take that price and wouldn’t put anyone off the Draw/Draw HT/FT double: the draw has been United’s most common away result under Van Gaal and nine of the 12 occurrences have come after being level at half-time.
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