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Manchester United hosts Manchester City in the Manchester Derby on Sunday at Old Trafford. It will be the 161st meeting between the cross-town rivals. The first meeting between the sides took place back in 1881, when United were known as Newton Heath and City were known as West Gorton. That game ended in a 3-0 win for United.
This is a massive fixture no matter where the teams sit in the table, but there’s extra spice to this match as City leads the Premier League with 21 points, two points ahead of third-placed United.
In recent years, it’s been City that has been on top, winning six out of the last 10 derby meetings. This includes the 6-1 pummeling back in 2011 when Mario Balotelli revealed his “Why always me?” shirt after scoring a goal.
United won the last meeting between the rivals 4-2 after goals by Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling. Sergio Aguero scored both goals for City, but the Argentine striker will miss the game on Sunday due to injury.
Wayne Rooney is the top derby goalscorer in the Premier League era, having found the back of the net on 11 occasions against the Citizens.
United manager Louis van Gaal recognized that the derby is the talk of the town this week.
“I think for the fans it’s very emotional,” van Gaal told manutd.com during the pre-game press conference. “I live in a little village and it’s the talk of the town there.
“But for me it’s not an issue because I have to work more rationally and not emotionally. We have to prepare our game; we have one day less, so it is more difficult.
“We have to do the meetings in a shorter time. It is also more difficult for the players, but we have to do that. That is what we are doing and we hope that we can beat Manchester City.”
City has been enjoying a good start to the season and is coming off two high scoring games in the league, beating Newcastle 6-1 before the international break, which they followed up with a 5-1 victory over Bournemouth last weekend.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini hopes that the goalscoring form will be intact on Sunday.
“You never know, we hope to see a lot of goals, the most important thing is to try and win the game,” Pellegrini told mcfc.co.uk. “There are different ways to try to win, I think we have one, I hope for fans it’s a good show and good game.
“I think that our team, if you remember last season, we had a lot of different ways to play. Last season we had the four strikers injured and we played with Milner and he scored two goals I think in two or three games and our team scored 15 goals without strikers. We have players with characteristics that can play different ways, and every one of them can score.”
Pellegrini also touched on the fact that it’s one of the biggest games of the year for the fans of both teams.
“I think for the city it is always a special game,” Pellegrini said. “It’s very important for both fans to try to win and to try to demonstrate who is the best in the city and of course we are involved in similar situations.”
Whomever comes out with the win will have bragging rights until March when they meet again at the Etihad. And if it’s a draw, they will argue about what team was closest in getting the win. One thing’s for sure: the whole of Manchester and fans around the globe will tune in to watch this one.