Manchester City vs Manchester United HIGH COURT: How do players measure up?

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Manchester United have won at the Etihad Stadium in three of their last four league visits but nobody can deny Manchester City are overwhelming favourites to beat them this Sunday.

The gulf that has opened up between the two clubs now runs much deeper than the 19 points that separate them in the Premier League table.

While Pep Guardiola’s side have a clear identity and play with a well-honed sense of purpose, United have no discernible style and with Ralf Rangnick merely an interim manager, the whole club gives the impression of being in flux.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Manchester United's interim boss Ralf Rangnick

Pep Guardiola’s (left) Manchester City will begin as strong favourites to get the better of Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United when they meet in the derby this Sunday

Bernardo Silva was on target as Manchester City won 2-0 at Old Trafford back in November

Bernardo Silva was on target as Manchester City won 2-0 at Old Trafford back in November

City sit 19 points ahead of United in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's derby match

City sit 19 points ahead of United in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday’s derby match

But even though United have laboured in recent matches against the likes of Burnley and Watford, they do sometimes put in surprisingly competent performances in the biggest games.

We compare how City and United match up player-for-player on possible line-ups and current form in our high court.

GOALKEEPER

Ederson (Manchester City) – Another impressive season for the Brazilian, who has kept a clean sheet in 15 of the 26 Premier League matches he has played in and conceded just 17 times. Three of those came in one match against Leicester and another three in the recent defeat by Tottenham. Ederson doesn’t always have a great deal to do in matches but is usually alert enough to make the crucial saves when he needs to. 8/10

David de Gea (Manchester United) – The Spanish keeper may have spoken recently about his affection for United and the city of Manchester in general, but the team’s wobbles this season will have been a great frustration. Far too often, United have relied on De Gea’s important saves to keep them in contention in games, even against supposedly lesser opposition. There’s a strong argument he is their most important player, which doesn’t say much for the defence. 8/10

City keeper Ederson has a superb clean sheet record this season

United's David de Gea keeps his side in contention in so many games

City keeper Ederson (left) has a superb clean sheet record this season while United’s David de Gea (right) keeps his side in contention in so many games

RIGHT-BACK

Kyle Walker (Manchester City) – It hasn’t all been smooth for the England man this season with Guardiola dropping him for several league games after a reckless sending off against RB Leipzig in the Champions League. But City are normally better for his presence at right-back and Walker knows precisely what the manager expects of him both defensively and offensively after five years. 7.5/10

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – Was United’s first-choice in this position under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but has faced stiffer competition from Diogo Dalot since Ralf Rangnick took over. There’s good reason for that, with Wan-Bissaka still far from the finished article for a £50m footballer. Tenacious in the tackle but still far from convincing when pushing forward. 6/10

Kyle Walker is a trusted part of Guardiola's side

Aaron Wan-Bissaka remains unconvincing at United

Kyle Walker (left) is a trusted part of City’s side but questions remains over Aaron Wan-Bissaka (right) at United, especially with his attacking play

CENTRE-BACK 

John Stones – With Ruben Dias out for a few weeks with a hamstring problem, John Stones is likely to deputise in the more familiar surroundings of central defence having recently slotting in at right-back. It’s been a forgettable season for Stones, who has slipped down the pecking order and been in and out of the team, affecting his performances. But now is his chance to get a regular run of games and prove his worth. 6/10  

Harry Maguire (Manchester United) – There’s no doubt United’s captain has endured a very long hangover from last summer’s Euros and the news the club will target a new centre-back in the summer has only enhanced the scrutiny. Remains sluggish and erratic, making basic mistakes in too many matches and often exposed by pace, though he does retain plenty of qualities such as his aerial prowess. 6/10

John Stones has struggled for game time and form

United captain Harry Maguire is well short of his best form at the moment

City’s John Stones (left) has struggled for game time and form this season and United’s captain Harry Maguire (right) is well short of his best

CENTRE-BACK

Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) – Has moved back ahead of John Stones to become a first choice pick in the heart of City’s defence this season and seldom puts a foot wrong. Has a good understanding with Dias and is trusted by Guardiola in the majority of the big games. United will likely have a hard time getting the better of him on Sunday. 8/10

Raphael Varane (Manchester United) – The £41million signing from Real Madrid was supposed to be the answer to United’s defensive woes but we certainly haven’t seen the best of him yet. Varane is undoubtedly a class act but injury issues have disrupted his season and he hasn’t been able to bring his influence to bear on an all-too-often shaky back line. There should be much more to come though. 6.5/10

Aymeric Laporte is City's first choice once again

United's £41m signing Raphael Varane has more to give

Aymeric Laporte (left) has become a first choice in defence for City again, while United’s £41m signing Raphael Varane hasn’t yet shown all his qualities

LEFT-BACK

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City) – After a lot of chopping and changing on the left of defence in recent seasons, Cancelo’s sparkling form this season has made him nigh on impossible to drop. The Portuguese star tormented United when City won 2-0 at Old Trafford back in November and could easily do so again. Three goals and eight assists this season speaks to his excellent going forward as well as keeping tight at the back. 9/10

Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – Another England player who seems to have suffered following that Euro 2020 final defeat. Shaw has failed to replicate his hot form from last season though recent assists against Burnley and Leeds have suggested a revival may be occurring. Some promising signs of a connection with Jadon Sancho down the left of late but can produce a lot more. 6.5/10

Joao Cancelo has been in sensational form this season for City

Luke Shaw has struggled to show his best for United

Joao Cancelo (left) has been in sensational form for City all season but the same can’t be said of his United counterpart Luke Shaw (right)

MIDFIELD

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) – A slow start to the season after he was troubled by an ankle injury suffered in the Euros but De Bruyne has, of late, started to show that irresistible form we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. A flurry of goals and assists in recent weeks have helped City keep ahead of Liverpool in the title race and he’ll be vital as ever in their pursuit of domestic and Champions League glory. 8/10

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) – The two clubs use differing formations but if we compare the main creative influences, Fernandes is a good way behind De Bruyne at the moment. After a magical start to his Old Trafford career, this campaign has been one of sullen, sulky frustration at the drop-off in standards. Nonetheless, Fernandes has chipped in with nine goals and 14 assists and has been at his lock-picking best in Europe. 7/10

Kevin De Bruyne is back in his stride ahead of the run in

Bruno Fernandes has often looked frustrated this season

City’s creative force Kevin De Bruyne (left) is starting to return to his best form but Bruno Fernandes (right) has cut a sullen figure at times despite good returns

MIDFIELD

Rodri (Manchester City) – Has been City’s defensive midfield metronome for much of the season, offering the defensive insurance that allows those further forward to do their thing – and is excellent at it. That isn’t to say that’s all Rodri does – his stoppage time winner at Arsenal on New Year’s Day maintained City’s momentum. 8/10

Fred (Manchester United) – The jury remains out on Fred among many United fans but the Brazilian has definitely found a slightly better consistency this season having often been a bit of a laughing stock. Always a willing worker and tackler, while his goal at Leeds showed a clinical edge pushing on. But does he finally look like a £47m midfielder after four years at United? No. 6/10

Rodri has enjoyed a good season in City's midfield

Fred celebrates his goal in the win at Leeds

Manchester City midfielder Rodri (left) has enjoyed a good season while United’s Fred (right) celebrates his goal at Leeds the other week

MIDFIELD

Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) – While not quite matching the goalscoring heights of last season, Gundogan remains Mr Reliable in the City midfield. He’s a leader – taking the captain’s armband in the last two games – and typically contributes something even if he isn’t the matchwinner. You sense Guardiola wouldn’t want to do without him. 7.5/10

Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – Pogba’s final season at Old Trafford (in all likelihood) has proved even more frustrating than most of his other ones. The hamstring injury that he suffered on international duty in November blew a big hole in it and his excellent early season form is but a distant memory. Just needs to show a bit of something special in what remains of his time at Old Trafford, if only to win the transfer he wants. 6/10

Ilkay Gundogan remains a reliable figure for City

Paul Pogba is likely in his final few weeks at Old Trafford

Ilkay Gundogan (left) remains a reliable figure in City’s midfield, while Paul Pogba (right) needs to show something special in his last few weeks at United

FORWARD

Phil Foden (Manchester City) – Has been seriously impressive at times this season while still hinting strongly that there’s plenty more to come. The 21-year-old England star has 10 goals and eight assists across all the competitions and is in pretty good form at the moment, scoring a priceless late winner at Everton last weekend. Will be desperate to get at United’s flaky defence. 8.5/10

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) – It really has been a season of struggle for Rashford, who didn’t return from his shoulder surgery until well into October and then immediately went through the turbulent patch that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dispensed with. Goals have been few and far between ever since amid a string of off-colour performances that have led to him not starting the last three league games. 6/10

Phil Foden has scored some precious goals for City

Marcus Rashford has struggled all season

Phil Foden (left) has found some match-winning form of late but his England colleague Marcus Rashford (right) is struggling

FORWARD

Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – You never quite know in which position Silva will be deployed by Guardiola, having played in four different ones across the midfield and forward line for City this season. Is actually on a goal drought dating back to December in league action but was brilliant against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League recently. Just another match-winner in the City side. 8/10

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) – Ronaldo’s return was a romantic one but it hasn’t gone completely to plan and there have been times when the Portuguese superstar has wondered why on earth he came back. Too much moaning and complaining while not having much of an influence on proceedings. However, it can’t be denied that United would be in a much worse place without his 15 goals – out of the Champions League for one thing – and we know he retains that match-winning ability. 7/10

Bernardo Silva has been effective right across the midfield and attack for City

Cristiano Ronaldo has cut a frustrated figure too often since returning to United

Bernardo Silva (left) has proved effective all over City’s midfield and attack, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s (right) United homecoming hasn’t gone entirely to plan

FORWARD

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – Following a pretty slow start to the season – understandable after the Euros – Sterling has slowly picked up momentum and has produced some devastating performances in recent months. He has 13 goals for the campaign and five assists too and Guardiola will hope Sterling has played himself into peak form for their twin Premier League-Champions League assault. 8/10

Jadon Sancho (Manchester United) – A slow start to life at Old Trafford had many questioning the £70m outlay on the England winger but, of late, Sancho has really started to impress with the telling contributions to games growing. In the past, United have successfully taken City apart with lightning counter attacks and if Rangnick pursues that strategy on Sunday, he’ll need Sancho on song. 7/10

City's Raheem Sterling is playing himself into top form at the best time

Jadon Sancho is slowly looking like a £70m player

Both City’s Raheem Sterling (left) and United’s Jadon Sancho (right) are in good form 

TOTALS

Manchester City: 86.5/110

Manchester United: 72/110

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