While this month’s Manchester derby will have only a minor say in the Premier League title race, it will give a good indication of where both sides are under new managers.
Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes have each suffered a league defeat in their first three games. Manchester City surprisingly came unstuck at Cardiff, while Manchester United lost at rivals Liverpool.
United have four points from a possible nine, City six. Neither side have built on impressive wins on the opening weekend.
United feel they were hard done by when the fixture generator pitted them against three rivals in their first five games. Moyes found his club’s start to the new season “hard to believe”.
That was the first sign of weakness from Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement, who endured a difficult transfer window. He only managed to sign Marouane Fellaini and little-known duo Guillermo Varela and Saidy Janko.
By contrast, neighbours Manchester City enjoyed a productive summer, bringing in Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Martin Demichelis to complement an already impressive squad. They look well equipped to win a second Premier League title in three years.
The fixture at Etihad Stadium will be City’s big opportunity to prove they are the side to beat this term. United will be out to show they are still the force they were under Ferguson. Goals and drama are guaranteed.
The corresponding fixture last season finished 3-2 to United courtesy of Robin van Persie’s last-gasp free-kick. He will be just one of a whole host of match-winners on show on September 22.
It is difficult to discount a side that won the Premier League so convincingly in 2012-13 but City’s transfer dealings have given them the edge this term. BetVictor has Pellegrini’s side as 7/4 favourites for the title, with United at 4/1 to retain their crown.
City are likely to prolong Moyes’s difficult start to life in the United hot seat in the Manchester derby.