PREVIEW: Doku holds they key in Manchester Derby

Football commentator Kieran Burke previews the 191st Manchester derby.

The first Manchester Derby of the 2023/24 season takes place at Old Trafford on Sunday with Manchester United seeking a fourth consecutive win in all competitions and back-to-back derby wins against last season’s treble heroes Manchester City (Sunday, 3.30pm, Sky Sports – Don’t forget to put your clocks back 1 hour).

An Erling Haaland double helped City through a difficult game in Switzerland against Young Boys on Wednesday with Pep Guardiola’s men responding well to their recent defeat at Arsenal with consecutive wins since that loss in North London.

It’s no surprise that City’s return to winning ways has coincided with the return from suspension of holding midfielder Rodri, who must be considered as the best in the world at what he does in the City engine room.

It has been the middle of the park where Manchester United have had real issues this season with new signing Sofyan Amrabat yet to find his feet, although it should be pointed out the Moroccan international having to fill in at left-back at times since his arrival was far from helpful in his integration into the team, while Casemiro hasn’t looked the same player as last year and is reportedly carrying a knock from the recent international window away with Brazil.

Luckily for United, the visitors are still without arguably the best creative midfielder in the league with Kevin De Bruyne still on the Etihad treatment table.

However, it goes without saying that Man City still carry plenty of threat in midfield with recent arrival Jérémy Doku proving to be a revelation out wide with the Belgian international scoring twice and making a couple of assists since his move from Stade Rennais.

With the Red Devils still without Luke Shaw, Doku could do some real damage down the Old Trafford touchline on Sunday. Doku to make 1 or more assists on Sunday is 9/4 while the 21-year-old is 5/2 to have 2+ shots on target as part of our #BetBuffet Match Specials – Check them out in full, here.

Despite winning their last three matches, Manchester United have failed to convince with goalkeeper André Onana the hero midweek with his last-gasp penalty save in the 1-0 win against Copenhagen. The big positive in recent weeks has been the resurgence of the much maligned Harry Maguire, who scored the winner against the Danes.

Maguire will be tested to the full against the modern day goal machine Haaland on Sunday. The Noweigian has bagged 9 goals in 9 Premier League games this term while he has scored a hat-trick in City’s 6-3 win against United last season. However, Maguire did not feature that day while he came on as a sub in United’s 2-1 derby win in January.

City haven’t exactly been at their brilliant best either in recent weeks as the Blue side of the City have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last six matches in all competitions. However, we saw it last season from Pep Guardiola’s team, he tends to prime them to hit their peak towards the business end of the campaign and in truth, they may not have to be anywhere near their best to dispatch their neighbors this weekend.

Despite losing out in the latest renewal of this derby, City’s recent record in the fixture is excellent with the Cityzens winning more Premier League matches at Old Trafford than any other team (8 wins – 7 of those 8 wins coming in City’s last 12 visits to OT).

VERDICT: Man City win (13/20)

SCORE PREDICTION: Man United 1-2 Man City (13/2)

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article