Manchester City vs Manchester United – April 7, 2018 – Etihad Stadium – 17:30 hrs – EPL Preview
If Pep Guardiola's Citizens manage to beat Manchester United at Etihad stadium on Saturday evening they can claim to have sealed the title for the 2017-18 Premier league.
In fact, by beating Everton 3-1 last weekend they have almost assured themselves of the crown. But before that, Manchester City have bigger things to worry about.
An injured Sergio Aguero looked doubtful for City's all-important UEFA Champions first-leg Round of 8 clash against Liverpool on Wednesday night. The lead striker, City's highest scorer by far, is expected to recover by the weekend and be fit for the clash against United at least.
Since Pep Guardiola's boys are already in the driver's seat for the Etihad clash, the Spaniard may be tempted to try Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy who too have come out of injury.
Even without the injured Aguero around, City have displayed immense attacking flair with folks like Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus all getting into goals.
Kevin De Bruyne and David de Silva have been phenomenal upfront and have been instrumental in creating the bulk of City’s goals. United's back-line of Anthony Valencia, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Victor Lindelof have been shaky at the best against slightly better attacks they encountered in their recent wins over unfancied sides like Brighton and Swansea City.
Facing a City attack in their current form will be indeed a daunting prospect for the United defense.
United's most expensive acquisition Paul Pogba, looks doubtful given his differences with Jose Mourinho and his dismal form. Mourinho will have to give more playing time to some like the electrifying Marcus Rashford. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata should further complement what looks like a complete attacking quartet.
Lukaku should be bolstered by the milestone he achieved in the win over Swansea City, getting his 100th Premier League goal.
But the Red Devils will have to do much more against a City defense that has looked much more solid after the return of Vincent Kompany. Jon Stones, Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi are the other protagonists at the back who have improved immensely over time and will be very difficult to crack.
While chasing a 16-point lead over them is out of bounds, it's imperative that the Red Devils try to win the Etihad clash just to ensure they are comfortably ensconced in the Top Four.
Liverpool are just a couple of points behind them and 4th placed Tottenham four behind on 64. Liverpool’s clash with a tottering Everton next week provides the Reds with a chance to edge past Manchester United if the latter were to lose at the Etihad.
Even a draw for United may not suffice, for Liverpool have a healthier goal-average. Even Tottenham would fancy their chances of edging closer to United given that their weekend opponents will be relegation candidates, Stoke City.
Manchester City could be a bit weary from the exacting Round of 8 mid-week clash, but have enough firepower to overcome a United side who look well below their best.
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