ROM Man new2Danny Taylor, The Guardian’s chief football writer

PREDICTION: 3-2 City

The strange thing is that while everyone has been obsessed with United’s defence – and let’s not pretend it’s been pretty – City have kept only two clean sheets from their nine Premier League matches as well. They have looked strangely subdued at times and David Silva’s injury is a huge setback for them because he really is the player who makes everything tick. That said, they generally raise their game against United so I’ll have them shading it.

James Ducker, Northern Football Correspondent of The Times

PREDICTION: 2-1 United

I’d say this is just about the hardest Manchester derby in recent memory to predict. There are so many competing factors – both teams’ uncertain defences, both teams’ electrifying attacks, the approach of both managers. I suspect we’ll see a more pragmatic Van Gaal who will get men behind the ball and look to break on the counter through Di Maria, Rooney and his full backs when it suits. City haven’t looked comfortable defending against that approach this season. By contrast, Pellegrini will go for it as he normally does. Silva will be a loss creatively but the flip side of the coin is that City’s weak left side might be more robust without the Spaniard cutting inside and leaving it more exposed. No scoreline, genuinely, would surprise me.

Rob Dawson, Manchester Evening News football writer

PREDICTION: 2-2

Neither team are playing particularly well, and I’m not sure either United or City are capable of stopping the other scoring. They wouldn’t admit it, but both managers would probably snap your hand off if you offered them a draw now. I’d go for a draw, which would be a positive result for both teams in the circumstances.

Andi Thomas, SB Nation

PREDICTION: 3-2 City

Neutrals must be positively humming at the thought of this one. Which potent attack is going to put more goals past which dubious defence? Sadly for United, the answer is probably City: Sergio Aguero is is scary enough in isolation; Sergio Aguero standing next to Marcos Rojo is utterly terrifying. But it’ll be a completely different kind of loss-at-City to last season’s humiliation, in that both teams will turn up and United will at least threaten to play football, so that’s something. Oh, and Fellaini’s getting sent off. Two yellows. Both deserved.

Doron Salomon

PREDICTION: 2-2

Very simply, I want a win. It would be nice to think we might play well and show some pride/passion/fight/hunger but we’ve gone too long without beating a rival and that counts for far more than any patting-ourselves-on-the-back type semantics. Verging on ‘must win’ territory.

Adam McIlroy, Full Time Devils

PREDICTION: 3-2 United

After last season’s double embarrassment under David Moyes versus Man City, United are due a big derby performance. Form goes out the window but City haven’t been at the races recently and David Silva could be a huge miss for them.

Record goalscorer Rooney returns, RVP returns to the scene of his debut season heroics buzzing with his late goal v Chelsea so I’m confident LVG’s derby debut could be a memorable one. Our defence isn’t the best and Yaya Toure is due a goal, Sergio Aguero will provide the biggest threat but if we defend as we did last Sunday we can prevail!

Dan Stapleton, MBM for RoM

PREDICTION: 2-2

United looked good last week against the champions-elect, whilst City are having a bad time of late. But, to borrow an overused phrase, form goes out of the window on derby day. That said, I think Angel di Maria will run the show for the Reds and a draw is what I predict.

Dale O’Donnell, Stretty News

PREDICTION: 2-1 United

The morale-boosting result and performance against Chelsea last week changed my tune in a little prior to the Manchester derby. City not being in great form also contributed to my feeling of optimism and we do seem to be finding our footing after an uneasy start to the season.

The players appear to be enjoying themselves under Louis van Gaal and his system is coming together nicely. Injuries have held us back but with an array of players returning over the last few weeks, fans can look forward to United really gelling.

Shaun Birch, Beautifully Red

PREDICTION: 2-2

Derby time once more and again United will go into it as the underdogs. Pre Chelsea draw many fans would have been fearing the worst but the Reds put in a performance of real promise that showed that they are more than capable of getting a result at the Etihad.

Whilst City look to be missing their key playmaker in David Silva, United will be looking to the world class ability of Angel di Maria to produce the moment of magic to turn it United’s way. The Reds have not beaten City since Robin van Persie’s late winner in 2012 and after an excellent performance against Chelsea will hopefully be ready to fire United to derby day delight once more.

Wayne Rooney will return to complete the attack and will hopefully not suffer from his usual post time out of the side form to add to his tally as the highest goal scoring in Manchester derbies (11 goals) David de Gea is the form keeper in the League and if our defence can stay strong in front of him and allow the attacking qualities we posses to play then United will do fine.

Whilst a win is currently not out of the realms of possibility I’m going to play it safe a go with a score draw.

James, Can They Score podcast

PREDICTION: 2-1 United

It will be refreshing to go to the Etihad with an astute and tactically aware manager after the debacle of last season’s derby games. We are playing City at a great time. They are struggling for confidence after recent back to back defeats and United will be buoyed by the euphoria of RvP’s late equaliser against Chelsea.

I would expect goals with both defences looking susceptible and the first goal is vital. If City get it then their old swagger may quickly return but if United score then it could lead to the home fans getting agitated and further eating away at the fragile confidence of the boys in light blue. Would love a win but a battling draw would do. I don’t think we will lose.

Nashat Hassan

PREDICTION: 2-1 United

I’ve said this about every match so far this season, so it doesn’t really mean much, but I have a good feeling about this game. However, the only way I can see us getting a result would be if we take the game to City rather than sit back and let them pick us off, what with our atrocious defence. Judging by LvG’s approach to matches this season, I can see him doing just that. The first half will be crucial as well, with us mostly playing our best football during those first 45 minutes. If we can go into the second half with a lead, then you never know what could happen. I’m going to go with a 2-1 United win – a bit too optimistic, I know – with Fellaini and Blind being the star performers. Di Maria with a late winner!

Lee Blease

PREDICTION: 2-1 United

The fear, the expectations, the dreams you have days before of a fairy tale 5-0 win or that last minute winner. The butterflies, anxiety. Form doesn’t matter in these games. It’s about those 11 men going out there and not just playing for the shirt but playing for the pride of Manchester. To send the fans of to work on Monday or bumping into your blue mates with that arrogant grin and bragging rights. Every player has to be at their best on the day, we can’t afford to carry any passengers, we can’t afford to switch off for one second. Have no fear, why should we. We are Manchester United. Our attack can hurt them just like they can hurt our fragile defence. Thought we did much better at the back against Chelsea so a more positive and confident back line could serve us well on Sunday. I’ll take a draw right now but being an optimistic red I’ll stick my neck out and say 2-1 United.

READ PART I HERE.




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