March 3, 2024

Man City vs Man United: Guardiola wary of rivals

Man City vs Man United: Guardiola wary of rivals

Erling Haaland has Man United in his sights this weekend as Man City host their cross-town rivals at the start of a season-defining spell for the Premier League champions.

Pep Guardiola’s men, chasing an unprecedented fourth straight English top-flight crown, boast an impressive recent record against United but know they cannot afford a slip-up in a tight title tussle.

Leaders Liverpool are strongly fancied to see off struggling Nottingham Forest despite their injury problems, while free-scoring Arsenal face relegation-threatened Sheffield United.

AFP Sport picks out three talking points ahead of this weekend’s action.

Hotshot Haaland highlights Rashford’s woes
The Manchester derby appeared to be shaping up to be a tasty face-off between Haaland and Rasmus Hojlund until the in-form United forward sustained a muscle injury.

Norway international Haaland scored five times in the 6-2 FA Cup win against Luton in midweek to take his tally to 27 in 30 appearances in all competitions this season despite two months out injured.

In stark contrast Marcus Rashford, United’s leading man last season, has mustered just five goals, leaving his side blunt in attack at the Etihad in the absence of Hojlund, who is likely to be missing on Sunday.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola warned the United game would be “completely different” from their Luton romp but in truth the derby, while a blockbuster clash on paper, has become one-sided in recent years.

Man City have won five of the past six matches against their local rivals in all competitions, scoring 18 goals.

Haaland has developed a taste for playing against United, netting five times against them in four meetings — including a hat-trick at the Etihad last season.

Guardiola’s men face Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal after the Man United game but, with Haaland in his current form, any fixture looks winnable.

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