Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains behind the wheel, nearly two weeks after a 5-0 loss to Liverpool that he described as his ‘darkest day’ in management. Manchester United have responded with a comfortable win at Tottenham and a close point at Atalanta. But another key game comes Saturday.
This weekend they face Manchester City, live Sky sportsAnd another strong loss at home to an opponent would be a blow from which Solskjaer could not recover.
The good news for United is that Pep Guardiola is not afraid for his coach. Solskjaer has a winning record over the Spaniard, winning four and losing just three of his eight encounters. In fact, Solskjaer is the only manager to face Guardiola at least four times and has more wins than losses.
Solskjaer’s 50 percent win percentage against Guardiola places him with the royalty of the modern administration.
Best winning percentage vs Pep Guardiola (minimum 4 games)
|Manager||Games vs Guardiola||Win||To win%|
|Ole Gunnar Solskjaer||Eighth||Room||fifty%|
How Solskjaer was able to defeat Pep again
Keeping Man City out will surely be the starting point for Solskjaer, who responded to the 5-0 loss to Liverpool by trading three at Tottenham. It was the first time they had used that system at the rear in 57 league games, since they beat City 2-0 in March 2020.
United have won their last three league games without conceding a goal when they have used three on the back, facing just five shots on goal.
In their two most recent Premier League games with four behind, defeats to Leicester and Liverpool, they faced 19.
Man Utd with three backs – last three PL results
|Date||adversary||Outcome||Shooting at the target|
|October 2021||Tottenham||G 3-0||0|
|March 2020||City man||G 2-0||Room|
|February 2020||Chelsea||G 2-0||1|
The bad news here is that United are missing two centers.
Raphael Varane has been ruled out for a month, while Victor Lindelof did not play Atalanta for a minor blow.
Eric Bailly performed well in Italy, however, and when United beat City last March, Luke Shaw was part of the bottom three. So they have shown that they can make the system work, regardless of staff.
City’s struggles in attack against United
Since the beginning of 2020, City have scored 151 league goals, but none against their Manchester rivals. United have kept a clean sheet in all three league games since January 2020, and in four of the five games in all competitions.
Manchester City Premier League goals since the beginning of 2020 (against teams that finished in the top 8 in the last 2 seasons)
Simply put, City have struggled in recent meetings to bring down United.
In general, Solskjaer has let City have the ball and tried to hurt them on the counter. It’s a tactic used by many teams, but one in which Solskjaer’s United have been remarkably good.
The more possession City has had, the more it has struggled. Since the start of 2019/20, they have lost all four derbies when they recorded more than 60 percent possession. They have been unbeaten in all three games in which they have had 60 percent possession or less.
Man City vs Man Utd record since the start of 2019/20
|More than 60% possession||Room||0||0||Room||1|
|60% ownership or less||3||2||1||0||5|
It’s not hard to imagine United will attempt something similar this weekend. They went head-to-head with Liverpool with disastrous consequences, then named seven defensive players in their XI and won at Tottenham.
The realistic key for City to unlock United’s defense?
If Solskjaer follows this plan and allows City to have the ball, someone will have to open up that massive defense.
Kevin De Bruyne’s form has been a concern this season – he still hasn’t assisted a goal for City in the league. This could be Jack Grealish’s moment.
Eleven of Grealish’s 13 starts with City have been on the left wing. It started as part of a midfield three in the opening weekend’s loss to Tottenham, and Guardiola used it unproductively as a false nine against Liverpool: Grealish recorded just 29 touches at Anfield, his fewest in any match. in the Premier League as a starter since January 2016.
The numbers suggest that Grealish is starting to assert itself from that left-wing position. In his last five starts, all in the Premier League and Champions League, Grealish has been creating more opportunities every 90 minutes.
The quality of those opportunities is improving, in keeping with his long-awaited assists record, and his signature ball-carrying is becoming more productive.
Jack Grealish at left wing – 11 starts (all competitions)
|First 6 departures||All stats to 90||Charge 5 starts|
|0.27||xA (expected assists)||0.4|
|1.2||It has been ending in chance created||3|
|27||Passing in the 3rd final||33|
Grealish has two goals and three assists for City. It wasn’t a bad start, but the £ 100 million man was Aston Villa’s talisman for years and he will back himself up to become himself for City.
A great performance in his first Manchester derby will set him on his way, but Solskjaer has shown in his historic United career that he can keep City at bay and that he does not give up easily.
Manchester Derby Podcast: Manchester United Back Injury Problems | Should he win for Man City? | Great match prediction
Peter Smith Joins Sky sports football journalists Richard Morgan and Ben Grounds to discuss Saturday’s big lunchtime showdown between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford.
PART 1 | How are the two rivals preparing for the big clash? We assess how Man Utd’s concerns about injuries on defense could affect his approach, while asking whether Jack Grealish lives up to his high price and the reasons behind inconsistent form from the defending champs. Is this match now a must win for them with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League?
PART 2 | Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a winning record against Pep Guardiola, so what is the secret of his success in this rivalry? And what will the clash be like on Saturday? We make our great match predictions!
Manchester United host Manchester City in the first derby of the season on Saturday, and you can follow all the action live on Sky Sports.
Manchester United vs Manchester City will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Premier League starting at 11:30 am; start at 12.30 pm.
Sky Sports customers can view clips of the game on our dedicated live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app.
The best free moments from the matches will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and on the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel before 2:45 pm on Saturday.