By Tomi Rantanen
Red Devils or Sky Blues?
After Saturday's Premier League round, we'll know if Manchester is painted Red or Blue for the next couple of months. United and City take on each other in the first derby of the season and the stakes are as high as ever. Both teams have started the season unscathed with three victories, but neither team has had to face a serious contender so far - but now they both will.
Newly acquired managers, United's Jose Mourinho and City's Pep Guardiola have only one goal this season and it is the title. There's no room for errors, especially against one of the biggest rivals both in the title race and bragging rights. Points gained or lost in this game might prove crucial at the end of the season when the cream is shared out.
The hosting United will field their best starting eleven, with only Henrikh Mikhitaryan sidelined due to an injury. City on the other hand, will be without two of their arguably most important players: Vincent Kompany is still struggling with injury and Sergio Agüero is serving his three game violent conduct ban. Argentinian nationals Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Zabaleta featured for their nation on Thursday and might be unfit to start as well. Especially losing Agüero to ill-advised suspension is a massive loss for City. After cleaning up house, Guardiola only has inexperienced, although promising, Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho to step in to replace Agüero.
According to AccuScore's simulations, Manchester United is considered heavy favorites in the first derby of the season. In 10000 simulations United is better in 58%, while City takes the win in only 17.7%. Probability for sharing the points is 24.3%. The oddsmakers believe percentages to be 38.6 - 30.2 - 31.2 (home-draw-away).
On average 2.51 goals are scored in the game, with lions share taken care by United with 1.7. City only manages to surprise De Gea at home end 0.81 times. Missing prolific Agüero is crucial in goal scoring department: with Agüero City would score 1.18 times! The most probably goal scorer in the game is, again, United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who'll score with 54% probability. Red hot Marcus Rashford comes in second with 25%, while Citizens Raheem Sterling and Nolito hover around 19%.
It's the biggest game so far in the season for both teams and in the derby emotions run high and everything can happen. United has the edge, but also the pressure of home crowd - and disastrous last couple of seasons.