This Wednesday isn’t just hosting any other mid-week fixture. When red and blue collide, it will mark the 178th competitive meeting between United and City. And with United aiming for 3rd spot, and City going for the title; it promises to be a cracker.
Still drying off after a stormy 4-0 loss to Everton, Solskjaer’s men will be looking to make a statement against Guardiola’s boys in blue. United currently sit down in 6th place, just three points adrift from Tottenham, who areclinging onto 3rd spot by goal difference over Chelsea. With their Champions League dream left in tatters following successive losses to Barcelona in the quarter finals, The Red Devils are desperate for a top four finish. Anything less than three points on Wednesday will hinder their hopes in earning a Champions League place for the 2019/20season.
On the other side of Manchester, City are throwing everything they have at earning a top spot finish. The title race with Liverpool is as exhilarating as everyone expected; and anything less than a win for City would leave their hopes for the trophy hanging in the balance. The citizens have had a week of ups and downs, a crazy champions league exit from Tottenham was followed by a narrow 1-0 win against them on the weekend, and Wednesday is expected to pose a greater challenge.
In the victory over Tottenham, City star Kevin De Bruyne hobbled off the pitch with a hamstring injury, and has since been ruled out of Wednesdays encounter, a major blow for Guardiola and the team. United’s injury list is deeper however; with Bailly, Valencia and Herrera expecting to remain side-lined for selection. Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero is expected to start, currently tied for first place forthe Premier League Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah.
Over the weekend, the PFA Player of The Year nominations were announced, and it comes unsurprising that The Blues dominate the six-man shortlist. Aguero finds himself on the list, netting nineteen times so far this season. He’s joined byfellow teammates Bernado Silva and Raheem Sterling, who have both played a significant role in City’s efforts to retain the title. Although none of the United players feature in the shortlist, they have a brilliant team none-the-less. Players like Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford have shone under Solskjaer’s new management. Playing more freely and open, you’d expect them to cause trouble for Guardiola on Wednesday. Although the last line of defence, David De Gea has proven to be one of The Reds all-time best shot-stoppers, and City’s strike force must be on top form if they expect to get past him.
It is without doubt that the clash will be exciting. Both teams have everything to play for, and with major bragging rights at stake too, all twenty-two players must give it their all. This will be Solskjaer’s first time as a manager in the Manchester Derby. The previous encounter in the season saw Mourinho succumb to a 3-1 loss at The Etihad. Will Guardiola manage the double over his local rivals? Or will Solskjaer manage to put a dent in his title hopes?
The game can be watched on Sky Sports Main Event, with coverage starting from 7pm.