Manchester United may have avoided defeat in their last two matches, drawing with Atalanta and beating Tottenham, but all isn’t entirely rosy at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen a problematic campaign so far, despite receiving big backing in the summer transfer window. And three players are known to be unhappy at the current moment in time.
Manchester United’s clash with Manchester City could be a classic.
It’s a fixture that hasn’t disappointed over the past decade, ever since the latter’s lucrative takeover back in 2009.
And United will go into the match with a big point to prove.
In their last home game, against Liverpool, they were battered 5-0 with Mohamed Salah running riot.
Many expected Solskjaer to lose his job in the aftermath of the contest but the Norwegian is battling on, despite links to Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane lingering in the background.
But, with three unhappy players, United will need to be exactly that if they’re to secure all three points against their fierce rivals…
THINK YOU KNOW SPORT? Test your sporting knowledge with our tricky quiz
Donny van de Beek
Donny van de Beek impressed off the bench for United in midweek, shining despite being only on the pitch for a few minutes.
And the Netherlands international will have been grateful to receive some action after barely playing over the past month.
Van de Beek has had enough. He’s fed up of being regularly overlooked by Solskjaer, who often plays Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba ahead of him.
Talk of a move away has gathered pace ahead of January with Wolves, Everton and Barcelona all emerging as potential suitors.
And unless he gets more chances, it’s looking likely Van de Beek will leave when the transfer window reopens in the New Year.
Zidane conflicted over Man Utd job
Arteta has nine undroppables after Arsenal beat Leicester
Messi hits back at Barcelona over playing for free
It’s also been a frustrating season for Eric Bailly so far.
Like Van de Beek, he impressed against Atalanta. In fact, without him, United would likely be facing another Champions League group stage exit.
When Bailly signed a new deal earlier in the year, he was assured he had a big part to play. Months on, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.
If he’s overlooked for City on Sunday, that could be the final straw. Especially after his fine midweek showing.
And with Raphael Varane injured, and Harry Maguire struggling for form, it would definitely be a surprise to see him benched for the match against Pep Guardiola’s side.
All isn’t exactly well in the world of Anthony Martial either.
Solskjaer recently insisted the France international was injured, which is why the former Monaco star hasn’t been seen since the 1-1 draw with Everton at the beginning of last month.
But Martial’s wife recently hit out at the Norwegian, saying it was true he’d had food poisoning but was never injured.
Therefore, there seems to be trouble behind the scenes.
And with United having so many star-studded attackers at their disposal, the writing appears to be on the wall for Martial.
Man Utd vs Man City prediction
Mikael Silvestre thinks United won’t lose ‘heavily to City’, though stopped short of backing them for the win.
“The team won’t suffer another heavy defeat [like they did against Liverpool],” he said.
“They will put on a fight, especially at home, for the supporters.
“Ole’s job is safe because he’s got enough credit and the players responded at Spurs. They picked up a point away from home against Atalanta, they are a decent team. United are still leading the Champions League group, so it’s a good response after the 5-0 defeat.
“At the moment Ole needs more time because we’re only at the beginning of November and players joined late in the window.
“He needs time to find the right balance with the new players, it’s not easy. Nine times out of 10, changing the manager is not the answer. The target is to win trophies, so you need to be in the race in March and April. That gives him a lot of time to improve the team.”