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Manchester City vs Manchester United: 5 key battles to watch | Premier League 2021-22

Cristiano Ronaldo and John Stones
Cristiano Ronaldo and John Stones
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Shambhu Ajith

Manchester City will renew hostilities with rivals Manchester United at the Etihad as the two collide on Sunday night.

Manchester United were played out of the park the last time the two sides met. The gloomy days that marked the rearend of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign as Manchester United manager were starting to settle in. The Red Devils were vulnerable and Manchester City showed them no mercy.

Or perhaps they did because the 2-0 scoreline was far too kind to Manchester United. But they're a much improved team under Ralf Rangnick and even though City are overwhelming favorites going into this one, it'd be silly to write the tricky Reds off.

Manchester United and Manchester City are well-matched on paper

Manchester City have plenty of world-class players. Ralf Rangnick's side are not really short on that front either. On Sunday, the Etihad will be graced by some of the very best in the business.

Without further ado, let's take a look at five key battles that could decide the Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Manchester City.


#5 Riyad Mahrez vs Luke Shaw

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Riyad Mahrez has been a standout performer for Manchester City this season. In his last seven games across all competitions for City, the Algerian international has scored six goals and provided two assists. He is a creative force down the right flank with his languid elegance shining through on a consistent basis these days.

Luke Shaw had a rather forgettable first half of the season. The Englishman has looked better since the turn of the year but his form has been nothing to write home about. Shaw was one of United's best players as they beat Manchester City at the Etihad last season.

He provided a lot of attacking thrust from the left-back position and scored a goal. However, the 26-year-old produced a horror show of a performance in the reverse fixture. Shaw will have his work cut out for him trying to contain Mahrez and galloping forward to help his side out in attack as well.

Riyad Mahrez - Something To Prove https://t.co/5WC8Nw2G9R

#4 Bernardo Silva vs Harry Maguire

Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

Bernardo Silva caused Manchester United plenty of problems in the reverse fixture. He snuck into the box and toe-poked the ball home to extend City's lead in the game after a bit of a defensive mix-up between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

Maguire was going through a very rough patch at the time. The Reds' captain has been an improved player in recent months but he will need to be at the top of his game on Sunday.

Silva is not only capable of linking up with his teammates by weaving intricate passes in the final third, but he can also wreak havoc with his movement. Maguire will need to keep an eye on the diminutive Portuguese attacker throughout the game and avoid silly mistakes.

Bernardo Silva is the only player in the Premier League this season with 40+ in the following metrics:◉ 44 tackles made◉ 44 chances created◉ 43 take-ons completedThe best Portuguese player in the Premier League? 🇵🇹

#3 Jadon Sancho vs Kyle Walker

Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

One of the main reasons why Manchester United could pose a threat to Manchester City is the improvement Jadon Sancho has shown. The 21-year-old looks to have settled down in Manchester, whipping out his tricks and finding joy in finessing defenders with his silky feet.

Sancho is also a mature presence inside the final third and has the composure to slow things down and make the right pass. He will be up against Kyle Walker, who hasn't had as good a season as most of his teammates. Walker has pace to burn but he will be viewed as the weak link in the City defence.

Walker will need to deal with Sancho and Shaw's combination play as well. Manchester United can cause a lot of damage when they break on the counter and Walker will need to be on high-alert on Sunday.

#2 Kevin De Bruyne vs Scott McTominay

Sporting CP v Manchester City: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Sporting CP v Manchester City: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

Kevin De Bruyne will be Manchester City's creator-in-chief. He has been in good touch and has scored two goals and provided six assists in his last 10 appearances across all competitions for Pep Guardiola's side.

If he is afforded the freedom of midfield, De Bruyne can single-handedly destroy Manchester United. Scott McTominay's main job will be to keep De Bruyne from getting into key positions inside their half.

The Scottish international is a workhorse but his positional discipline is suspect at times. McTominay will need to put his nose to the grindstone because he is not going to get much help from Paul Pogba during defensive transitions. This will definitely be a key battle that could determine the outcome of the game.

Kevin De Bruyne in the Premier League:▪️ 200 games▪️ 139 wins▪️ 80 assists▪️ 49 goals▪️ 3x Champion▪️ 2x Playmaker Award▪️ 1x Player of the SeasonAn incredible double-century. 👏 https://t.co/paGn20fSpq

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo vs John Stones

Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League

Ruben Dias has been sidelined for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury in what's a big blow for Manchester City. John Stones will take his place at the heart of defence alongside Aymeric Laporte.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just one goal in his last 10 appearances across all competitions for Manchester United. Here's a man who's desperate to score goals and we know what he's capable of on his day. His goal against Brighton & Hove Albion was a case in point.

Stones will need to be wary of his movements as Bruno Fernandes has picked Ronaldo out meticulously multiple times in recent weeks. Ronaldo's finishing has let him down of late but that won't always be the case.

Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't like losing 😅 https://t.co/g87AYnT3Tn
Edited by Shambhu Ajith
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