BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson has stated his prediction for Manchester United’s Premier League derby against Manchester City this weekend.
The Red Devils have been largely inconsistent during the campaign, and they have picked up just two league wins since the winter break.
Frustrating draws against Burnley, Southampton and Watford sees them clinging onto the fourth spot in the league table. Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium appears a must-win for them.
Otherwise, they could relinquish their spot if West Ham United or Arsenal pick up maximum points.
The latter are in an advantageous position in the Champions League race with three games in hand.
Ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby, Lawrenson believes the Cityzens will come on top. The former Liverpool star has backed the hosts to secure a 2-1 triumph over their arch-rivals.
He told BBC Sport: “This is probably City’s most important game of the season.
We saw what Tottenham did to them on the counter-attack at Etihad Stadium a couple of weeks ago, and United have the players to carry out a similar gameplan.”
“I’m still not entirely convinced by United under Ralf Rangnick but they do always create chances – they were held by Watford last week, but they had enough opportunities to win three games.
“So, I think United will score – but then they have to keep City out. I don’t see that happening.”
United were completely outplayed in the reverse fixture in November where the Cityzens sealed a 2-0 win.
However, it was the first league victory for Pep Guardiola’s side in five attempts.
On that basis, it won’t be straightforward for the reigning champions. United tend to bring out their best for the derby, especially in the league. They have won three of the previous five top-flight meetings with one draw.
This includes back-to-back victories at the Etihad Stadium. There is plenty of cause for optimism ahead of Sunday’s trip, but United must capitalise on their clear-cut chances in front of goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga have all squandered scoring opportunities over the past month. A similar repeat could prove costly against the Cityzens.
It remains to be seen what kind of approach Ralf Rangnick prefers for the game.
Tottenham Hotspur outclassed City on the counter-attack. United have found success adopting a similar tactic against them.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
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