If Anyone Can End Manchester City’s Winning Run, Manchester United Can

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Manchester City‘s record-breaking winning run has been going on since December. The Citizens have emerged triumphant from their last 21 games in all competitions, breaking the British record previously held by Arsenal, but are yet to surpass Bayern Munich‘s 23 consecutive victories set just last year. Next up for the Sky Blues, however, are city rivals Manchester United. The Red Devils have lost just once against the traditional “big six” this season, and will be ready to spoil City’s party on the weekend.

Manchester United Are the Team to End Manchester City’s Winning Run

United Tough to Break Down but Struggling to Create Chances

It has been very difficult for big teams to break Manchester United down this season.

Except for a freak 6-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur early in the campaign that can be put down to lack of match fitness and a controversial red card just 28 minutes in, the Red Devils have conceded no goals from open play in their subsequent six games against “big six” opposition.

Moreover, these matches have seen United’s opposition average less than three shots on target per 90 minutes. Their defence has come under much scrutiny recently, but it’s fair to say that they have stepped up in the big games.

This season, United’s attack has generally been their biggest strength, with their backline providing more issues, but games against traditionally big teams have seen the roles reversed. The Red Devils have scored just one goal in seven games against the “big six”, a penalty against Spurs.

Recently, they have struggled to produce chances with creative midfielder Paul Pogba injured. Despite this, even in big games when the Frenchman has started, he has tended to play as one of the Manchester side’s front three, and so hasn’t been able to help create opportunities from deep. This could be one of the reasons why United are struggling to break down these sides, but if either Scott McTominay or Fred are removed from their role in the central midfield double pivot, it could disrupt United’s defensive flow.

While this has certainly caused some complications, though, it seems that the Red Devils’ attempted change in approach to these sorts of games has been the root of their problems.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed this in a press conference on Friday, telling reporters: “We have looked at it. We have been in a strange way, more positive. High press in more or less every game, trying to pin teams back – last year maybe we relied more on the counter-attacks.”

It is true that counter-attacking was too heavily relied upon last year. Setting up as an underdog was not a sustainable way for a team like Manchester United to approach big games, and Solskjaer is right to try and address this. However, it has thus far failed to produce the results.

The Norwegian manager will, no doubt, have learned from their most recent game against traditionally big opposition, a 0-0 draw against Chelsea, and will tweak his setup as such.

Manchester City Will Put United’s Attacking and Defensive Prowess to the Test

Manchester City have an incredible squad. The addition of Ruben Dias last summer seems to have been the final piece of the puzzle, as the Citizens now sit 14 points clear atop the Premier League table. Both their attack and their defence are extremely strong, and will put United’s ability to score and defend goals to the test.

Despite this, the Red Devils have kept clean sheets against Liverpool‘s formidable front three, and twice against a Chelsea frontline that includes Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud, and Hakim Ziyech. City’s attack will pose a new threat, but nothing that the Red Devils haven’t seen before, having already stopped them from scoring in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign.

Should the Sky Blues emerge victorious against their city rivals United, the title would be all but sealed, if it isn’t already. The Red Devils are in a hot spell of defensive form, having only conceded two goals in their last seven, so City will need to be on top of their game when they host Solskjaer’s side.

 

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