The 170th Manchester derby takes place at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Who’ll win? Well, both teams are well placed – but here are a few things which could influence the match.
1. Will Pellegrini bring Kompany in from the cold?
Vincent Kompany has not started a game for City since he went against his manager’s wishes by playing for Belgium in their Euro 2016 qualifier versus Israel while carrying a calf injury. At his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini would not reveal whether he would start the defender against United, but form suggests he would be foolish not to do so.
The Chilean has praised Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala for their performances in Kompany’s absence, but the facts suggest City are stronger with their captain in the side. City kept five successive clean sheets with Kompany in the team at the start of the season. They have not kept one without him in the side.
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2. Will Bony seize his chance?
With Sergio Aguero sidelined by a hamstring injury, the onus will fall on Wilfried Bony to lead the line for City. The Ivorian has failed to live up to expectations since his £28million move from Swansea, but mainly because he has not had a proper run in the side.
Aguero has scored six goals in his last five appearances against United, so Bony has a lot to live up to on his Manchester derby debut. Unlike Aguero, he struggles to keep up with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling when City are on the attack, and his only league goals so far this season have come against Bournemouth.
3. Who’ll win the battle of the big buys?
If you take into account all the add-ons involved in the Anthony Martial deal, United and City paid a combined total of £112million for the French striker and Kevin De Bruyne in the last transfer window. That is an incredible amount of money, but in fairness to both players, they have so far lived up to the hype.
Martial scored on debut and took his tally to five goals in nine games with his equaliser at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. De Bruyne was also on target on Wednesday, scoring an injury-time winner for City against Sevilla. The Belgian has also scored five in his opening nine matches.
4. How much will United’s Moscow trip affect them?
Louis van Gaal said City have the advantage over United because they did not have to make an eight-hour round trip to Moscow in midweek. The United boss tried to help his players recover by staying an extra night in Moscow after the Group B match, which was played in sub-zero temperatures, but City are bound to be fresher after their home game in midweek.
5. Will Rooney mark his thirties with a goal?
Wayne Rooney turns 30 on the eve of the game. That landmark usually signals the start of a player’s decline, but Rooney insists he has many years left in the game.
The United captain looked sharp at Everton, where he scored the final goal in a 3-0 win last weekend, but cut a frustrated figure in the Khimki Arena. In the first half, only David de Gea touched the ball fewer times than the United forward. It is worth noting that Rooney has scored a record 11 goals in this fixture, however.
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