Back Three Suggested For Manchester United As They Prepare For Crunch Derby Against City

Written By Jacobs Dunga 

The red side of the city travels to the blue side of the divide in a derby that holds different significance to both teams.

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More Details Manchester United will on Sunday visit the Etihad to play against city rivals Manchester City. The Red Devils haven’t lost a game at away to City since 2018.


Ralf Rangnick’s men may be struggling at the moment but the Old Trafford lords haven’t lost to Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad in over three years.

City edged the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0 in a comprehensive performance that’s aw them dominate from start to finish and while the Citizens look to secure their advantage at the top, United are fighting tooth and nails to secure a top four finish.

Rangnick has had to switch from his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation to a more accommodating 4-3-3 but even with the change in formation, there hasn’t been much improvement in results as the record Premier League champions continue in the struggle to salvage their season.

United twice last season won at the Etihad in the Premier League and Carabao Cup respectively while Pep Guardiola has only ever won one of his home Manchester derbies, Rangnick has therefore been urged to pick a back three in order to frustrate the attacking threat of the home side.

Arsenal legend Martin Keown told talkSPORT: “Solskjaer had a good record because he would often change his system to a back three, which is probably something Rangnick should think about this week.

“Although Rangnick has had a good seven days to prepare. I know he’s trying to get that message across about pressing high through a 4-3-3 system, but I think it’s ready-made to change because Maguire needs protection in the back three.

“It’s not a given who the back three would be, or the wing backs, but I do feel it’s worth considering.

“Spurs beat them twice this season playing with a back five, maybe it’s a problem for Man City. They are struggling to break teams down.

“Lots of teams are playing with a low block and it’s quite difficult.

“Pep Guardiola has been re-emphasising that he wants the ball moved quickly and wants that opening.

“It’s quite difficult and you point to the fact they haven’t got an out-and-out striker, and does that really matter. They’ve been so successful, but it does count sometimes.

“City got a bit lucky last week with the handball that wasn’t against Everton, they got a bit of luck.

“I think when you are the hunter, it’s better to be in that position. I was in that position when we chased Manchester United down, and we were chased down in 2003.”

A United win will definitely put a huge dent on Manchester City’s title aspirations as a win for Liverpool against West Ham United will take them to within three points albeit having a game in hand.


Pep Guardiola has confirmed Ruben Dias has been ruled out of action for up to six weeks due to a hamstring problem.

The Portuguese center half will miss the Manchester derby and potentially the top of the table clash against Liverpool in a month time.

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Dias picked up the unfortunate injury during their FA Cup fifth round victory at Peterborough which is now a big blow to City’s title defence.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the match, the Guardiola also confirmed that Nathan Ake will not feature at the Etihad.

“It happens during a season,” Guardiola said.

“One of our best players, Kevin [De Bruyne], was out for eight or nine months previously.

“I’m not going to cry. We have two central defenders [John Stones and Aymeric Laporte] but it is what it is.

“People say we were lucky with Covid but we have 15, 16 players in the last months. We will fight.”

City host United on Sunday at the Etihad without their most important defender and will hope that the likes of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte step up in his absence.

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