Manchester derby: Paul Merson predicts United v City result

Manchester United host Manchester City in Saturday’s early Premier League kickoff at Old Trafford.

The high-flying Red Devils will be desperate to get to within one point of their bitter rivals.

Meanwhile, the Citizens have stumbled somewhat in recent weeks, dropping five points in their last four league games.

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They also lost to Southampton in the Carabao Cup in midweek.

Victory for Pep Guardiola’s side would put them within two points of leaders Arsenal ahead of their own derby.

As always, bragging rights are also at stake, and United will hope to avenge their 6-3 loss at the Etihad in October.

More often than not, the form book goes out of the window in Manchester derbies.

City have dominated of late, winning their last three encounters against their city rivals.

But with Erik ten Hag steering United to a great run of form, it’ll be especially difficult to predict this time round.

‘They’ll have a chance’

Paul Merson, writing on Sportskeedahas given his prediction for the game.

He doesn’t think there’ll be anything between the two come full time, opting for a 2-2 draw.

“This is a big game,” he began. “Manchester City have a tight schedule – they’ll have to train on Friday and play on Saturday.

“This is the first time that United are playing against City for a long time when they couldn’t be playing any better. Man United are playing with a lot of confidence.

“You’d usually expect Manchester City to wipe the floor with United, but now, I don’t see how Manchester United don’t score.

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“If they start this game the way Chelsea did last week, they’ll have a chance. If they change their game up and sit back, City will break them open.”

Merson went on to discuss City star striker Erling Haaland, saying “teams will catch on” to City’s tactics involving the Norwegian.

“Erling Haaland is an out-and-out striker – he didn’t touch the ball once in the first 20 minutes against Chelsea,” he continued.

“City’s players are told to get the ball in the box for him. If he doesn’t score, it starts to become a problem.

“Man City used to spread their goals across the team, and it was extraordinary. Teams will catch on, and they’ll start to stay tight with Haaland.”

‘A better shape about them’

Merson then focused specifically on United and how their next two games could propel them into Premier League contention.

He also name-dropped Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford for their impressive form.

“I think the next two games will tell you everything about Manchester United,” continued Merson.

“If they get four points from their next two games, they’re in the title race.

“Two draws won’t be enough, however, and that just shows you how quickly things can change.

“United have a better shape about them now.

“Fernandes looks like a completely different player again, and Rashford has taken it on himself to be the man – he’s playing the best football of his career.

“Manchester United play good counter-attacking football and have the pace to really hurt City this weekend.’

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TBR prediction

I expect things to be tighter and cagier this time round, in comparison to the nine-goal thriller we got last time out.

United have made significant improvements since then, and I reckon they will give City a tougher game.

At the same time, Pep Guardiola’s charges head into this game on the back of a defeat.

They’ll want to put things right, and with big names being recalled after being rested, they’ll be a tough proposition.

I reckon City will just edge this and secure a 2-1 win over United.

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