Manchester City vs. Manchester United: A Preview of a Decisive Manchester Derby

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Manchester City vs. Manchester United: A Preview of a Decisive Manchester Derby
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Last year, Manchester City defeated Manchester United in both of their Premier League matchups.

Those two wins, which Man City attained by a goal differential of six, was decisive in City's attaining their first Premier League title.

This was especially important considering the Citizens only won the Premier League on goal differential, the only time in Premier League history that this has happened.

Tomorrow, both Manchester clubs will meet again in their first matchup of the season. It will also be the first match between the two foes since Man City won last season's Premier League crown.

To start this year, United have claimed the top spot in the Premier League table. The Red Devils will enter this fixture with a three-point lead through 15 matches.

United have been the most impressive offensive side in the league to date. Robin van Persie is among the league leaders with 10 goals.

Wayne Rooney has also been impressive, registering a league-high seven assists to date. Rooney has already recorded more assists than he had in two of the last three seasons.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Rooney and van Persie have worked wonders this season.
City struggled during the first two months of the season, losing points in three of their first five matches. This was mainly due to multiple draws against sides they would normally defeat, like Liverpool.

There are plenty of storylines heading into this fixture. Here is a look at the last five matches that both sides have participated in:

Manchester City

Borussia Dortmund 1, Manchester City 0 (Dec. 4 - Champions League group stage)

Manchester City 1, Everton 1 (Dec. 1 - Premier League)

Wigan Athletic 0, Manchester City 2 (Nov. 28 - Premier League)

Chelsea 0, Manchester City 0 (Nov. 25 - Premier League)

Manchester City 1, Real Madrid 1 (Nov. 21 - Champions League group stage)

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Man City finished last in Group D with just three points. Due to this, their campaign in Europe is finished for this season.
Manchester United

Manchester United 0, CFR Cluj-Napoca 1 (Dec. 5 - Champions League group stage)

Reading 3, Manchester United 4 (Dec. 1 - Premier League)

Manchester United 1, West Ham United 0 (Nov. 28 - Premier League)

Manchester United 3, Queens Park Rangers 1 (Nov. 24 - Premier League)

Galatasaray 1, Manchester United 0 (Nov. 20 - Champions League group stage)

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Although they lost their final two Champions League group stage fixtures, Man United won Group H with 12 points.
Team News

Manchester City

After falling to Borussia Dortmund this past week, Man City will solely focus on winning the league now that they are eliminated from European competition.

City will be without the services of Jack Rodwell and James Milner due to hamstring injuries. Micah Richards, John Guidetti and Aleksandar Kolarov are also out due to injuries. Gael Clichy will also be out.

The Citizens will have David Silva back after missing him in Germany for their Champions League fixture.

With Silva back, City will likely field a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasić, Maicon; Yaya Touré, Barry; Silva, Tévez, Nasri; Agüero.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
David Silva will be fit for the Manchester Derby.
Manchester United

Just like their neighbors, Manchester United have injury concerns following their Champions League match this past week.

Tom Cleverley, Nemanja  Vidic, Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Anderson will all miss this derby due to injury.

The biggest question United face heading into this fixture deals with their goalkeeper. Anders Lindegaard and David de Gea have both been disappointing so far.

I foresee de Gea getting the start considering he had a decent performance against CFR Cluj in their Champions League match several days ago. United will probably use a 4-2-3-1 formation.

de Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Fletcher; Welbeck, Rooney, Young; van Persie.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
de Gea conceded 10 times against Man City in three fixtures last season, but could face them again in this critical match.
Key Players

Manchester City

Manchester United have been the best offensive side in the Premier League to date. Not only do they have more goals than any other Premier League side with 37, but they also have the best pass completion percentage (88 percent) in the league.

United's attack is ruthless, which is why Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is the key player for the home side in this derby.

In the last match between these two sides, Kompany scored the only goal to boost City into position to win the league.

Kompany does not need to score for Man City to win, but a strong defensive performance could be enough for his side to prevail.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Kompany scored the only goal at the Ethiad during the last Manchester Derby.
Manchester United

This season, no player in the Premier League has been more lethal than Robin van Persie.

The Dutch star is among the Premier League's leaders in goals with 10. Overall, he is seventh in the league with a 27 percent contribution rate on his team's goals.

Without van Persie, United would not be on top of the table. Considering their defensive vulnerability, they needed van Persie to be elite to start this season.

In recent years, van Persie has struggled to score against Manchester City. In fact, since his last goal against the Citizens in September 2009, he has scored against the other 19 clubs which currently occupy the Premier League table.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
van Persie has scored against 24 Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Man United, since his last goal against Man City.

The Manchester Derby is the most eagerly awaited match in England to date in this campaign, and both sides will put on a show.

In the last six Premier League matches between the two foes at Eastlands, just five goals were scored. No more than one goal was scored in each match.

The Etihad has been a haven for Man City. In the 27 matches home matches City has played in the league since the start of last season, the Citizens have not been defeated and have outscored their opponents 74-18 over that stretch.

Man City are the only remaining unbeaten side in the league.

However, Man United are the best away side in the league to date. They have won six of eight matches away from Old Trafford.

They also have more away goals (18) than any other Premier League side.

During the Premier League era, United have won 10 of 15 matches against City at either Maine Road or at the Etihad. Before their 1-0 loss last April, the Red Devils had not lost to their neighbors at Eastlands during league play  since 2007.

What will be the result of this Manchester Derby?

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Considering United's goalscoring exploits, they are likely to concede, considering they have only three clean sheets out of 15 matches in the league.

City have conceded fewer goals (11) than any other side. But it is unlikely that they will be the third league side to keep United off the scoreboard.

This is a very even match. For that reason, I see this as an entertaining match that will end in a draw.

Manchester City 2, Manchester United 2

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