Mike Keegan, Sports writer, BBC Sport
PREDICTION: 2-1 City
Expecting City to bounce back here. For me, United’s draw with Chelsea papered over the defensive cracks. Drogba is not Aguero. Yes, United might score, but who would bet against City failing to respond? There are too many mismatches for me to see anything other than a City win.
That said, confidence at the Etihad might not be what it should after recent results and United may well have a nothing to lose mentality. Don’t underestimate the power of that.
Mark Ogden, Daily Telegraph Northern Football Correspondent
PREDICTION: 3-1 City
City are clearly not performing to their full potential right now, but their strengths — Toure’s power, Navas’s pace, Aguero’s ability to finish, Dzeko in the air — are exactly what United are struggling to cope with.
Defensively, United are still all over the place and I don’t think you can go into a Manchester derby with confidence of a positive result when you have a central defensive partnership of Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo.
PREDICTION: 3-2 United
The direct match-up with City has been revolting for a fair few seasons now, but this time, we’re in a position to take them on – we have players who move towards, rather than away from the ball, know how to use it when it arrives, and can run fast. We’re also improving and have options, while they’re not playing well and have their best player out with an injury. So, it’s possible. Also possible is that Aguero is far too much for our defenders to handle, which means a high-scoring game, which leaves only one option: 3-2 United.
Miguel Delaney, ESPN, Independent on Sunday, Irish Examiner, Blizzard
It’s quite a curious one to predict given that City have suddenly slipped into awful form, but can they really go three defeats in a row – or four without a win? On the other side, Van Persie’s goal against Chelsea obviously felt like a transformative moment that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see a complete change straight away. Think there’ll be more conviction about United, but there are still gaping holes in the core of defence. Only thing I’d be certain on: there’ll be goals. A few of them.
Though the table and points tally suggest little has changed from last season, I think you can slowly see positives emerging as we move on from the nightmare before LvG; Moyes time. We look more of a team, a unit, and whilst Louis talks his sometimes ambigious philosophy, it is only a shaky unsettled and injured defence which has self inflicted pain on a much more attack minded United. If we can get a settled back four, I think we’ll see real progress and though Sunday is a huge test, I’m going into it in a much more positive mindset; not because of City’s recent performances, which undoubtedly help, but because two recent comebacks simply would not have been achieved last season. Carrick’s sub celebrations for the equaliser last weekend on the bench – proper gooning – suggest the team are buying into LvG when they recoiled from Moyes and I’m hoping LvG can once again show his credentials with our second biggest test in a week. City will want a fast tempo start to get at us, hold steady, keep the ball, pass it well and I think we can cause damage on the counter attack with our forwards. Our squad is much better than a year ago and that is a huge difference that can’t be understated – once they gel, here’s hoping. Sunday would be a nice place to start… but I’m going blindly with a 1-1 prediction as let’s be honest, anything could happen Sunday. But I don’t think it’ll be the downing of tools embarassment we saw a year ago.
I’ve seen and been to so many derby games they’ve become a bit of an irrelevance for me. I spent so many years seeing City as the retarded cousin that I should feel sorry for. But now, with the Arab money, I suppose they just about qualify as a big club, and my confidence as usual is low. But if things click then who knows. LvG needs time. Whatever Fergie says, he left a right fucking mess and Moyes wasn’t capable of clearing it up. LvG however seems to be on the right track, and comes across as a bit of a nut job which is ideal in a United manager. The best I can hope for is a 2-2 draw.
Alex Shaw – General Editor, ESPN
PREDICTION: 3-2 City.
United have lost five out of the past six matches against City, who have morphed from a noisy neighbour into one that needs a restraining order.
While United fans used to nervously count down the seconds in big games as the team held on for victories in the past, at times last season the seconds ticked by with supporters praying for no more pain. David Moyes’ side were humiliated 4-1 at the Etihad last September and while it may be closer this time around, I expect Louis van Gaal to taste derby day misery.
City have problems of their own but I can’t see them losing three in a row. Their defence is iffy and United can get at them, but they’ll probably have a bit too much in the end.
Who would have thought that it would be United and not City coming into the derby, if not favourites, then the team with all the momentum. That narrative is supported by Robin van Persie’s late late equaliser against Chelsea last weekend and the positive vibe that has been coarsing through the United camp ever since. City’s squad, by contrast, has suffered indifferent form of late and will be without key player David Silva for Sunday’s match. There is a difference in quality between the squads, especially in defence, but it is United, freed from the pressure of being favourites and with morale on the up, that starts as the more confident outfit.
Nooruddean Choudry, The Mirror
PREDICTION: 6-0 United
I felt more confident about the derby before everyone started talking up our chances this week. The narrative now revolves around City’s poor form and all the pressure Manuel Pellegrini is suddenly under. Silva being out would be a huge boon to United, as would be the absence of Toure. The former has been brilliant even by his standards and although the latter has been iffy this season he is still capable of winning a game on his own if he can just be momentarily bothered. United’s performance against Chelsea was heartening because it shows a solidity and resilience that we’ve lacked for ages. A key battle will be Rojo vs Aguero. On paper it should a mismatch and the City striker should have the class to turn a still raw and immature defender inside out. But Rojo’s familiarity with Aguero’s game may be an advantage. Di Maria will obviously be key but Rooney has something to prove. He is traditionally poor directly following a lay off but Sunday could just be the exception. I expect a cagey and hard-fought 6-0 victory for United.
Adam Crafton, The Daily Mail
City have always tended to be a little too strong for United in recent times, with that spine of Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Yaya, Silva and Aguero an overwhelming presence. But United strengthened in the summer and City stood still, mostly due to FFP. That, along with Silva’s expected absence and City’s current frailties (Mangala, Yaya and Dzeko hot and cold) could be a leveller but United need big performances from their big players to stand a chance. Fancy a draw – 2-2 – which does little for either side, if truth be told.
Paul Ansorge, Rant Cast, RoM and Bleacher Report
United are so hard to predict at the moment. There’s every chance we could make a ton of defensive errors, which City obviously have the resources to capitalise upon. On the other hand, there’s a growing sense that things are about to click into place, and if they do, I’m not sure their defenders and keeper can live with our firepower. I guess a lot depends on the form of both sides’ key creative players. Di Maria will be key, especially with Silva out for them (although Nasri’s not too shabby a replacement!).
Also key will be which of our strikers play, and how well they play. Would love RvP to hit some form again and pull off a replica of two seasons ago!
They’re favourites for a reason, especially at their place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we turned it on and at least got a point.
Alexander Netherton, Eurosport, StarSports, Mirror and Unibet.
PREDICTION: 2-1 City.
The draw against Chelsea has given Manchester United an odd sense of confidence, especially given City’s recent run of form. With Joe Hart in goal, United can be confident of scoring at least one. Similarly, with Manchester United having that defence and Wayne Rooney returning, United fans can be confident of smashing their heads against a wall in frustration.
Greg Johnson, The Blizzard, Squawka, VICE, RoM, Eurosport, Offside, The Mirror, The Guardian, FourFourTwo
PREDICTION: 3-2 United
They say it’s the hope that kills you, but given how fundamentally unreliable predictions are, it seems worth the risk. It’s unlikely that United will be able to dominate even a weakened City for 90 minutes so I’m instead going suggest a re-run of the 2011 Charity Shield game. The Blues to tonk us in the first half with a few canny Van Gaal subs in the second swinging it for United. 3-2 to the men in Red.
Reeling from three straight defeats and an injury to David Silva, this would seem the ideal time to play City. Or not. It might, instead, be an ideal time for them to play United. What better game to get yourselves out of a rut than at home to your rivals? Couple that with dread that’s recently emerged from this fixture, where City have usually come out by the far the stronger. United’s attacking players might at least have the chance to be decisive this time, with Januzaj and Di Maria out wide sounding considerably better than Young and Valencia from last year’s 4-1 thrashing.
PREDICTION: 3-2 United
The last time I was asked for a prediction from RoM was just after appointment of David Moyes, where I declared with all the foresight of a Titanic passenger with a return ticket, that United would win the league. It would be easy for me to err on the side of caution this time round but in all honesty I think United will get a result. The absence of David Silva plus City’s recent performances- or lack of them- makes me think despite having a defence that often resembles a Benny Hill sketch, the Reds can win by simply outscoring the champions.
Giles Oakley, Red Matters
PREDICTION: 3-2 United
There is suddenly a revived intensity about United, at long last, even if inconsistently . There are clearly goals in this team although the defensive frailties are very alarming at times. It’s those inexplicable losses of concentration that have to be eradicated or else City will all-too quickly exploit those gaping holes at the back. However, it’s the newly re-discovered never-give-up fighting spirit that gives us hope.
John Ludden, Manchester gangster tales of the Sixties
PREDICTION: 3-1 United
Di Maria, RVP and Rooney will do the damage. Confidence is a fearful thing when it comes to derbies but can’t help feeling this will be our day. For City, Silva is a huge loss and with our pace from wide positions, Sunday could well be the day Van Gaal’s tactical nous comes into play. I hope!