Manchester United vs Manchester City
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Andre Marriner
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Manchester United host cross-town rivals City in what is set to be the most important Manchester derby in many years.
Both sides can not afford to drop points, United aiming to continue their faltering top four challenge while City attempt to keep Liverpool at bay at the top of the table.
Changes of personnel are expected in both camps, with City tiring at the end of their victory over Spurs on Saturday while United seek to bounce back from Sunday’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to Everton.
United welcome back Luke Shaw from suspension, who looks likely to return at left-back with Diogo Dalot or Ashley Young set to deputise on the right.
Phil Jones was substituted at half-time in the defeat at Everton and will not be fit for the visit of City, meaning Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof will continue in the middle of defence.
In midfield, Scott McTominay appears set for a recall after replacing Fred at half-time against Everton, with Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba the most likely to join him in midfield. Ander Herrera is close to a return after injury, but will likely not be risked from the start.
Marcus Rashford will start in attack, having been taken off with 15 minutes left of the Everton game in a move clearly designed to preserve the young England forward for the visit of City.
Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku disappointed on Sunday and could face competition in attack from Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez, who are all pushing for recalls.
City may line up with an unchanged defence for the trip to Old Trafford, with Oleksandr Zinchenko lasting the full 90 minutes on his return from injury.
John Stones and Aymeric Laporte could continue their partnership in the middle of defence, though Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany could come in should Pep Guardiola opt for fresh legs. Kyle Walker is expected to retain his spot on the right.
Kevin De Bruyne is out after suffering an injury in the first half against Spurs and may not feature for City again this season, according to Guardiola.
Fernandinho is expected to come in from the start, with Guardiola set to choose two from Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan to accompany him.
If Bernardo Silva is brought back into midfield, that would open the door for either Riyad Mahrez or Leroy Sane to start in attack, with Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling occupying the other two roles.
It can not yet be called a crisis, but the wheels are certainly wobbling on Manchester United’s season.
Just weeks ago they were preparing for a Champions League quarter-final and enjoying league form that drew expectation of a top-four finish.
However, a run of six defeats in their last eight games in all competitions has seen them crash out of Europe and fall behind in the race to reach the Champions League next year.
City are, in many ways, the worst possible side to face in this situation, an organised team full of world-class footballers who are still in the hunt for silverware.
But the bitter rivalry may just yet inspire United, especially as it will be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first experience of a Manchester Derby since he left United as a player.
City recovered from last Wednesday’s cruel Champions League defeat to Spurs with a narrow victory over the same opponents in the Premier League on Saturday.
That result may prove invaluable as they chase a second consecutive league title, but in reality it may be academic if the Citizens fail to overcome United.
City famously spurned a two-goal lead to lose at home to the Red Devils last year, a memory that will no doubt be used by Pep Guardiola to fan the flames of City’s fire on Wednesday night.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Fernandinho, D. Silva; B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Predicted Score: 0-2
United have lost their fire since beating PSG in the Champions League round of 16 and looked utterly toothless against Everton. City meanwhile are on a run of 10 consecutive Premier League wins and have won on five of their last seven trips to Old Trafford.
I expect United to make a frantic start and push for an early goal, but also that City will repel everything United throw at them as they seal a priceless victory.