To put it bluntly, Manchester City’s recent home record against Manchester United is abysmal. But Blues fans need not worry too much.
City have lost four of the past five Manchester derbies played at the Etihad Stadium, with the 3-1 win in November 2018 standing as Pep Guardiola’s only home triumph against United since he took charge of the Blues in 2016.
His side team kept a clean sheet against their cross-town rivals at home since 2017 and Nicolas Otamendi – who left the club almost two years ago – was the last City player to score in the fixture on home soil.
However, there are mitigating factors behind the defeats of 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 that should give City fans some optimism that their side will get the job done when United come to Eastlands on Sunday.
The thing is that – pride and bragging rights aside – none of City’s home losses to United really mattered that much.
The 3-2 defeat in 2018 that saw City surrender a 2-0 lead – and pass up the historic opportunity to seal the title by beating their old foes – was a painful one, but it only delayed City’s crowning as champions by a week.
Guardiola’s side were not at full strength that day, with a few key players remaining for the Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool. United lost to strugglers West Brom seven days later after the heroic comeback and the title race was over.
City were terrible in the 2-1 loss in December 2019 but, in truth, Liverpool were already clear favorites to win the title. A month later United won the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final 1-0, but City had won the first 2-0.
In March 2021, United won 2-0 to end City’s 21-match winning streak. No matter – Guardiola’s side were still 11 points clear at the top of the table.
All this is to say that there is an asterisk next to United’s recent wins on City’s patch. On the flip side, when getting a result in the derby has been of paramount importance, City have tended to rise to the occasion.
City’s 3-1 win against Jose Mourinho’s United in November 2018 kept them above Liverpool at the top of the table when a defeat would have given Jurgen Klopp’s side a real boost.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
Fine performances at Old Trafford in recent years have come when the pressure was on. This season’s exhibition in control kick-started a 15-match unbeaten run for City, while the 2-0 win in April 2019 prevented Liverpool from moving top of the standings with weeks of the season remaining.
This weekend represents a similar set of circumstances. Having seen their lead at the top of the Premier League reduced from 14 points to six (Liverpool have a game in hand though) in recent weeks, City cannot afford to slip up on Sunday. If they do, they will hand Klopp’s side the advantage in the title race.
The pressure is on and the stakes are high but history has shown that, when that is the case, City are more than capable of rising to the occasion.
Do you think City will beat United on Sunday? Follow our City Is Ours writer Alex Brotherton on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.