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Key battles: Manchester City vs Manchester United

Manchester City and Manchester United are set to clash for the first time this season on Sunday.


Manchester United and Manchester City are bitter rivals and the fight to dominate their city generally produces some excellent outings.

For years it was Manchester United who held the bragging rights, but the tide has change and Manchester is now blue.

Last season saw Manchester City come away with 2-0 and 4-1 wins over the Red Devils. However, United now have Erik ten Hag at the helm and are expected to put up a much better fight than they did in their last outing under Ralf Rangnick, which saw them firmly put to the sword.

Ahead of the game, 101GreatGoals have picked out four areas where the game could be won or lost.

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Erling Haaland vs Lisandro Martinez

Starting with the obvious, Manchester United must neutralise Erling Haaland if they are to stand any chance of beating Manchester City.

The man likely tasked with doing so is Lisandro Martinez. Given the height and weight advantage, it would not be at all surprising if Haaland spent more time on the left side of United’s backline so he can challenge Martinez.

However, Martinez, despite his height, has been fairly good in the air this season, winning 70 per cent of his aerial duels. But given the sheer size and power of Haaland, the South American may struggle on Sunday.

United fans will, however, take some solace in the fact that when the pair were at Dortmund and Ajax, Martinez did a superb job of keeping Haaland quiet in a Champions League match.

Ilkay Gundogan vs Christian Eriksen

The next key battle is expected to take place in midfield. Christian Eriksen has taken up a deeper role in a double pivot for Manchester United this season.

Eriksen’s ability on the ball has been crucial to Manchester United’s success this season, especially in the 3-1 win over Arsenal when the Dane helped carved open an aggressive Gunners side on several occasions.

To prevent Eriksen impacting the game too much, Pep Guardiola could start Ilkay Gundogan alongside Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and task the German with sticking to Eriksen all game.

Antony vs Joao Cancelo

Next up is Antony vs Joao Cancelo. The Brazilian made his league debut vs Arsenal and was a real nuisance for Arsenal’s backline. Given the importance of the match, it is expected Joao Cancelo will be the man tasked with nullifying Antony.

On the flip side, Ten Hag will be likely keen for Antony to stay as high up the pitch as possible at all times. This would, in theory, force Cancelo to sit deeper and therefore prevent the forward from bursting forward and causing issues in the inverted full-back role he has popularised over the last few years.

Kevin De Bruyne vs Casemiro

Finally, Casemiro will likely be the player charged with making sure Kevin De Bruyne does not run the game as he normally does.

Ten Hag has shown faith in Scott McTominay as a defensive midfielder this season, and the Scotsman has performed pretty well.

But given De Bruyne is one of the best midfielders in the world right now, Ten Hag would be wise to instead deploy the more experienced Casemiro against the Belgian.


Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.



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